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Right Brain / Left Brain President
Recent Titles in Contemporary Psychology Preventing Teen Violence: A Guide for Parents and Professionals Sherri N. McCarthy and Claudio Simon Hutz Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict Evelin Lindner Collateral Damage: The Psychological Consequences of America’s War on Terrorism Paul R. Kimmel and Chris E. Stout, editors Terror in the Promised Land: Inside the Anguish of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Judy Kuriansky, editor Trauma Psychology, Volumes 1 and 2 Elizabeth Carll, editor Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Grassroots Peace Building between Israelis and Palestinians Judy Kuriansky, editor Who Benefits from Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System Marc Pilisuk with Jennifer Rountree Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact Mary Lou Décosterd Creating Young Martyrs: Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea Alice LoCicero and Samuel J. Sinclair Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict Evelin Lindner Emotional Exorcism: Expelling the Psychological Demons That Make Us Relapse Holly A. Hunt, Ph.D. Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs Evelin Lindner
S HOEMAKER Contemporary Psychology Chris E.Right Brain/Left Brain President Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It Mary Lou Décosterd F OREWORD BY C HRISTOPHER C. Series Editor . Stout.
Left and right ( Psychology) 3. LLC 130 Cremona Drive. — (Contemporary psychology) Includes bibliographical references and index. Title. p.O. Leadership — Psychological aspects. .Copyright 2010 by Mary Lou Décosterd All rights reserved. Right brain / left brain president : Barack Obama’s uncommon leadership ability and how we can each develop it / Mary Lou Décosterd . recording. Mary Lou. Barack — Psychology. or transmitted. in any form or by any means. Cerebral dominance. photocopying. Readers should not regard any and all such information as a substitute for medical advice or prescription.abc-clio. foreword by Christopher C. BF637. LLC ABC-CLIO. Visit www. P. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from the application of any health and fitness information contained in this book.L4D434 2010 158'. paper) — ISBN 978-0-313-38073-0 (ebook ) 1. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Décosterd. No part of this publication may be reproduced. 2.com for details. Shoemaker. cm. Box 1911 Santa Barbara.4 — dc22 2010000525 ISBN: 978-0-313-38072-3 EISBN: 978-0-313-38073-0 14 13 12 11 10 1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an eBook. or otherwise. The book contains information about health and fitness. 4. without prior permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN 978-0-313-38072-3 ( hard copy : alk. California 93116-1911 This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America Public figures referred to in this book were not interviewed. Descriptions of public figures are based on publicly available information. stored in a retrieval system. Praeger An Imprint of ABC-CLIO. except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. electronic. I. mechanical. Obama.
. . .To “That One” . with heartfelt appreciation for bringing leadership back into the forefront.
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Contents Figures Series Foreword Foreword 1 The Obama Phenomenon Leading with Both Sides of His Brain At First Blush Intelligence Personified From Intellect to Action Passion and Attitude Constructive Intolerance His Human Side Making History The Phenomenon Recapped 2 The Nature/Nurture of Leadership A Life Juxtaposed The Luck of the Draw Influences. Experiences. and Moments Heritage Recapped Leadership and the Brain A Leadership-Perfect Form xi xiii xv 1 1 4 5 7 9 11 13 15 16 19 19 20 23 33 34 36 .
Obama-Style What He Does and How He Does It Recharging the Energy Battery Savvy 101 Fundamental Awareness Power and Influence Perception as Reality Defining Moments 7 Becoming More Obama-Like From Values to Actions Leadership Must-Haves Your Call to Action Tools of the Trade .viii Contents 3 Right.and Left-Brain Potentials A Leadership Model Right Brain/Left Brain: Counterintuitive A Leader’s Line of SITE The MEGA Mind The Plus Factors Model in Context 41 41 43 45 47 49 50 59 59 64 69 73 77 79 79 83 88 91 95 97 97 98 100 103 105 106 108 110 112 115 115 116 119 125 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent An Innovative Approach A Transformational Imperative Engaging Underpinnings Noting Breadth and Depth 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action Expressive Excellence Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R True Assertive Right Brain/Left Brain Summary 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal Resilient Energy Positive Thinking.
Contents ix Summary Thoughts Parting Inspirations Acknowledgments Appendix Notes Bibliography Index 132 134 137 139 145 155 159 .
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2 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right.1 7.1 3.and Left-Brain Ability Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Partial) Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership 42 51 99 120 123 .Figures 3.1 7.2 6.
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It gives me a proverbial backstage pass and often giddy first looks at what has become what you are now holding in your hands. strategy. And remember. Dr. It is a masterpiece of impressively researched writing blended with her own model of leadership into an understandable synthesis that is highly readable (and enjoyable!)—regardless of your politics. I already have had the very pleasurable experience of working with Dr. I like how she transforms her book into a tool box. It is truly a major contribution to the field. Décosterd in her earlier book may wind up being eclipsed by this volume. no president . conveniently packaged into a book! She doesn’t stop there. I have previously noted that Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership is a truly impressive effort—really the first book of its kind that is an amalgam of neuroscience. all of which comprise a leadership how-to. Décosterd deconstructs the complexity of politics. Décosterd in prior consulting gigs and with her in her first book in this series. filled with things such as her Ten-Point Executive Summary. the popular Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact (2008). either. In the case of this project. and human functioning and makes it all understandable and accessible. leadership. her Right and Left Brain Toolkits. it additionally affords me the chance to meet new authors and get to know them and their work at an intimate level—resulting in deep friendships and moving intellectual experiences. While history will be the final judge of this president. The high-water mark reached by Dr. leadership. In some cases. this is in the context of a very enjoyable book. and forms galore. Now Right Brain/Left Brain President: Barack Obama’s Uncommon Leadership Ability and How We Can Each Develop It continues where Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership left off. as she helps us to make our new learning actionable. her Tools of the Trade. and intuition. as well as of all presidents.Series Foreword I feel fortunate to hold the often enviable position of being the Series Editor of Contemporary Psychology for Praeger.
Stout Kildeer. Obama herein.xiv Series Foreword has been so completely researched and considered so early on in a presidency as Mr. and that makes this book historic as well. Chris E. Illinois Series Editor. Contemporary Psychology .
Regardless of one’s perspectives on Obama’s policies. while at the same time methodical and grounded (left brain). great right brain/ left brain leaders are not born. one of our nation’s leading experts in leadership psychology. there can be little doubt that he is an extraordinarily charismatic leader. self-serving. we are at the front edge of an era of great challenge and change—when the very nature of the international community and the nation-state are in significant flux. and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. nurtured. and grown through structured programs of leader development that share universal components but are tailored to the particular institutions or governments in which individual leaders are to serve. Across the spectrum of human activity—from government to the private sector—the world needs leaders who are at once strategic and innovative (right brain). now brings her extraordinary talents and groundbreaking Right Brain/ Left Brain Model to an examination of the leadership style of President Barack Obama in Right Brain/Left Brain President. a struggling economy.S. narrow. the single most important determinant of success or failure will be leadership. . pragmatic. and bigoted leaders has long past. the world can no longer afford that sort of self-indulgence. The age of petty. Mary Lou Décosterd.Foreword Dr. There is too much at stake. Obama confronted a breathtaking array of challenges—health care. climate change. however. able to excite and galvanize a wide political spectrum — both in the United States and around the world—to rally to his call. To design and implement such leader-development programs. jingoistic. In my experience in both the U. and inspirational leaders has never been higher than it is in these opening decades of the 21st century. In such an environment. Army and the private sector. His ability to lead a highly polarized electorate to solutions in all of these areas will be the ultimate measure of his leadership skills. In the first year of his administration. committed. In a broader sense. The demand for visionary. They are created.
she has examined his remarkable abilities to harness his leadership potentials—many of which are just now reaching their maturity. Dr. Shoemaker has a PhD in political science and is a graduate of West Point and a retired colonel in the U. Décosterd’s seminal research and writings on leadership provide an invaluable point of departure for understanding leadership. Shoemaker. digest its lessons. Army. As such. Using her right brain/left brain methodology. thereby establishing a foundation upon which leader-development programs can be fashioned and implemented. Within that framework. Right Brain/Left Brain President is a first-class guide to 21st-century leadership through an up-close look at the man who is at the national power epicenter. PhD Senior Vice President for Strategy L-3 Communications Services Group and MPRI Dr. . Right Brain/Left Brain President is a significant contribution to an enlightened perspective on leadership and will be one of a series of applications of Dr. despite his relative lack of executive experience. Christopher C. Such programs will allow the successor generation to manage their dayto-day issues and challenges with a strategic perspective and to look across their minds to discover untapped potentials. Emerging leaders of all political stripes should read this book.xvi Foreword we must first understand the fundamentals of the psychology and physiology of leadership. This book then shows how Obama’s unique brand of leadership is the result of his ability to leverage his full brain potential in how he thinks. and acts. decides.and left-brain integrated skill sets that enable him to address a complex array of challenges. and then apply them to their own development. Décosterd has undertaken a detailed and rigorous analysis of Barack Obama and his rise to political prominence. Barack Obama’s leadership skill sets are examined through the prism of Dr. Décosterd’s model that identifies and then applies ten key behaviors to maximum leadership impact. Dr. he possesses significant right.S. Décosterd’s methodology to specific leaders. He served on the staff of the National Security Council during the administrations of both President Reagan and President Carter.
savvy. more than ever. We needed a leader with a steady hand and an open mind. was run like a prudent. Certainly the existing context shaped the moment’s intensity. someone who led with intellect and vision. The world was seeing those qualities in Barack Obama. begin to reverse the damages done and grow in a new direction? Now. we needed leadership. . or a slight tweak in the status quo.Chapter 1 The Obama Phenomenon The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife. national election had such far-reaching impact. who could connect with all people and yet who could stand strong. —Barack Obama1 Leading with Both Sides of His Brain The world watched in awe on November 4. the war on terror ever intensifying and environmental threats looming. Novel strategic outreach maximized the internet to attract targeted demographic groups and the ever-chanted mantra “Yes we can” built and held momentum. From candidate to president. for one thing. Experiencing Obama through rallies and high-profile media appearances further reinforced that this was not typical campaigning. How would we ever get on a better track. It was Barack Obama who would lead us through the challenges of our time and return our nation to the very ideals upon which it was founded. His campaign. hi-tech business. we noticed in Obama a marked departure from Washington politics as usual. what with the full weight of global economic crisis upon us. when Barack Obama was elected the next president of the United States of America.S. We needed a full-spectrum leader. America chose a young. Something was different about the man and his politics. charismatic Harvard-educated African American as their political star. Few can recall a time when a U. 2008. not more of the same.
few leverage it. The inauguration was carefully crafted in a way befitting the historic event that it was—the induction of the first African American U. and innovative. those who lead from controlled prefer- . fluidly through their orientation to the White House. able to know the way while recognizing implicit opportunities and threats. For most of us. Expressions like “we are creatures of habit” and “great minds think alike” illustrate our tendencies toward what is known and familiar. We sometimes say that we don’t like to “step out of our comfort zones. We also experienced someone who was as pragmatic and definitive as he was at relating well to others. this is certainly true. we are socialized to what we already know. In the face of unprecedented global crisis. fluid. and decisive.” an indicator of how we unwittingly thwart our brain’s diverse potential. fair. engaging. strategic. president. an excitement we feel when we are in the company of someone or something different. what we noted was that Obama’s brain-style shifts occurred not as an exception. a fresh. behavioral habits that cause us to think and act in a more singular fashion. our initial excitement soon turns sour. Over the years and through their many roles and challenges they hone a leadership approach that nets results. firm. masterful.S. In essence. the president-elect led his transition team. however. Today. In descriptors like prudent. The expression “opposites attract” refers to an emotional pull. If this is the way our brains are set up to function. Most are constricted by preferences. regardless of our base intelligence or expertise.2 Leaders in particular tend to gravitate toward their preferences. why don’t we all think and act this way? While many if not all of us have the capacity for such dual-brain engagement. Following the gala the newly sworn in President Obama marked his first weeks in office with a firm. genuine. diverse group of top thinkers and functional experts. More to the point. we recognize a wide range of behaviors along with a breadth and flexibility in both style and perspective. savvy. Obama masterfully modeled the sensitive balance of power needed by an incumbent. While we gravitate toward the different. in President Obama we saw someone who was leading with both sides of his brain—able to act from a set of behaviors. some more left brain — and to shift smoothly between apparent brainstyle differences. All too often. it is often those very preferences that made them successful in the first place. some more right brain in nature.and left-brain behaviors. a seemingly natural and effortless flow that made his brand of leadership so powerful. In President Obama we saw an ability to be intuitive. Put another way. President Obama was leveraging his brain in the manner in which it was set up to function. through a sharing and collaboration of skills enabling the whole to be truly greater than the sum of its parts. You may have heard it said that we use only a small part of our brains. but as a rule—as a dynamic interplay between right. After all. Upon closer examination of the Obama phenomenon we note the root of his allure. though. and decisive hand. fair.2 Right Brain/Left Brain President Once selected. President Obama’s quintessential genuineness combined with his celebrated heritage to excite and uplift the masses. uplifting.
capable.and left-brain leadership behaviors were identified that if accessed. and the world moving at lightning speed. Such vulnerability is aptly expressed by one senior vice president interviewed who relayed that never before had he worked harder. being moved out of assignments. Today’s leadership vulnerability is evidenced in a number of ways. organizational. Obama demonstrated a breadth and depth in leadership ability. however. the rules have changed.and left-brain leadership engagement • An understanding of how Obama’s background enables him to engage both sides of his brain with such ease and ﬂuidity . Right Brain /Left Brain President will examine Barack Obama’s broad-based leadership style through the lens of integrated right. with intensified profitability challenges. it was enough for a solid leader to leverage his or her strengths and for the most part succeed. Other leaders are coming into broken situations confident they can turn things around but finding it more difficult than they thought. The result was that a wider audience believed presidential candidate Obama was the best person to meet the diverse challenges of our time.and left-brain thinking. greater workforce complexities. and in fact overplaying them.3 Obama’s ability to extend himself and lead from a wide range of behaviors enabled him to ultimately win the election. Still others feel ineffectual at addressing escalating people challenges. leaders need to act from a more complete range of business. a top ten list of right. In a followup to that work. well-intentioned leaders are receiving lower performance ratings. In order to succeed in today’s work climate. In my previous book. this book will present the following: • The Obama phenomenon— aspects of Obama’s leadership that captivated so many so quickly as compared to the status quo • An understanding of how the brain is structured for right. So what is happening? Simply put. and interpersonal behaviors. More specifically. Today. The net result is that many of today’s solid leaders are getting the message that they aren’t making it. New leaders are given more and more responsibility with less and less experience or training and are becoming quickly overwhelmed. would enable leaders to better leverage their right and left brain potential and thereby better address the complex issues of today. Some simply cannot keep up with the rate and pace of change. Some leaders are reaching goals they never thought possible and are being asked yet for more. Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact. like low morale. accomplished more. new environmental and social circumstances. The lucky ones are succeeding but at greater personal cost. or are holding their own but never really feeling on top of things.The Obama Phenomenon 3 ences may find themselves vulnerable. While his opponents were calling attention to their well-honed strengths (preference leadership). it is harder for leaders to get to the goal line. In the past. hardworking. Obama called on his breadth (multiple leadership behaviors) and depth (nuance traits within a given leadership behavior). Bright. and yet felt less successful. Obama showed a facility beyond leadership as usual.
This quiet strength is one contributor to Obama’s uncommon leadership ability.”4 Obama walks down his proverbial paths assimilating information as he goes. He is progressive. What was it precisely that enabled Obama to captivate so many so quickly? Think about it. for that matter. What such a leader uncovers through reflective study informs the base upon which strategies are built. Obama was no doubt gathering information. its people. strategies that are more enlightened. beginning with Obama’s vintage quiet strength. One and a half million people braved the January cold on Inauguration Day 2009 to be a part of Obama’s swearing in. eventually. problems. what we notice at first blush. but also of patience. What specifically are the characteristics that enabled Obama to rise to such heights? Seven dimensions of the Obama phenomenon will be identified. Information is power. questioning his experience and resolve. “If you are walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking. and interconnections. The book is apolitical in intent. looking for validations. and one who moves methodically toward a goal. and began what would be a lengthy discovery process. He was leaving no stone unturned as he formulated his assessment. it was historic. you’ll make progress. opportunities. It is how to assure that information comes the leader’s way. Yes. While the naysayers and pundits reacted to Obama’s reserve. thoughtful in his approach. Obama’s quiet strength is one of not only reflection. To initially lead from an inconspicuous posture affords a unique view of the other and of that around you. and above all. a case-study of a leader/exemplar as a development tool. Obama was no doubt taking in the host of issues his nation. He listened. and Obama’s quiet strength enables him to garner that power. he was in reflective mode. the world was facing. To begin we examine the Obama phenomenon. observed. issues. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that compelled those around him to speak while he listened. an iterative leader. Such is a far better scenario than entering into a situation with one’s mind already made up and getting blindsided. Such thoughtfulness ensures first and foremost . and. polite and unassuming in demeanor. At First Blush When we first came to know Obama we noted a quiet strength. He once said. but the appeal was as much about the man as it was about the milestone. Record numbers around the globe tuned in to watch.4 Right Brain/Left Brain President • An explanation of ten core leadership behaviors that cull and integrate our full brain ability—the right-brain/left-brain leadership model using President Obama as exemplar • Steps and tools for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches —how you can extend your brain’s leadership ability What follows is an interpretation based on publicly available information. We saw a man measured in his words. No direct collaborations were sought. Obama was in fact demonstrating a key leadership strong suit.
in your opening remarks you talked about that if . Obama has likened his progressive tact to building a house brick by brick. If you think about his tenure in politics. how well you reason. The actual question was. What may be more germane. It allows for sound conclusions. though.The Obama Phenomenon 5 that the paths selected are the right ones. Intelligence (IQ ) tests have numerous scales in order to garner a full view of one’s smarts. We would refer to these qualities as thriving on knowledge and being a quick study. It is multidimensional. It shows you what one voice can do. and what makes his brand of intellect unique with respect to leadership? He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. “Here’s my point. Obama was in fact now well past his fifteen minutes of fame and on his way to the journey of a lifetime. it can change a state. He was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. Such leaders know all too well that if you start at the appropriate point and move forward. Being regarded as bright in IQ terms requires demonstration of ability across the intellectual spectrum. it can change a nation. and sort through social cues are some of the many IQ dimensions. further captures his step-by-step approach. 2009. “Mr. from that assured place no goal is insurmountable. Such learners make both great students and exemplary teachers. We can make assumptions that Obama must possess a more than respectable IQ based on these accomplishments. Intelligence is not a discrete trait.”5 The Obama phenomenon began not with a flame. moving with ease forth and back between scholar and educator functions. problem solve. Virginia. So how bright is Obama. a gentle. it can change a city. yet potent beginning. Intelligence Personiﬁed Obama was off and running. That one voice can change a room. how he went from community organizer to Senator. He leverages knowledge to extend an already primed intellect. and fertile results. President. From these unassuming roots a movement took hold and grew in astonishing fashion. but with a spark. it can change the world. Consider the following example from his first prime-time press conference on February 9. and then to president. and if it change a state. managing each expanded opportunity with impressive role command. and if it can change a country. how well short. his direction fueled by his own brand of intellect.and longterm memory functions. President Obama embraces learning. Virginia. How quickly a person can grasp new information. is his attitude about learning coupled with his ability to seek and rapidly assimilate broad-based information. and if it can change a city. And if a voice can change a room. presidential candidate. we see that it is both his intellectual ability along with his intellectual outlook that set him apart. That’s how this thing started. A segment from Obama’s last rally of the 2008 election campaign in Manassas. A reporter was asking about the president’s plan to arrest the current financial crisis and questioning an aspect of Obama’s direction. effective planning.
Obama also demonstrated another intellectual quality—that of openness. more demand for food stamps. do you not want them saving it. His eagerness to consider new possibilities . There is nothing that will limit intellectual capacity more than a closed mind. it means putting forward investments that not only employ people immediately. We heard. So the most important thing we can do for our budget crisis right now is to make sure the economy doesn’t continue to tank and that’s why passing the economic recovery plan is the right thing we should do even though I recognize that it is expensive. and detailed perspective. paying down debt first before they start spending money into the economy?” This was Obama’s response. Now you are making a legitimate point that our savings rate has declined and this economy has been driven by consumer spending for a very long time. in essence. What got us into this mess initially were banks taking exorbitant wild risks with other people’s money based on shaky assets and because of the enormous leverage where they had one dollar’s worth of assets and they were betting thirty dollars on that one dollar. internalized his lessons. that will put enormous strains on the federal budget as well as the state budgets. making layoffs which in turn made things worse. in fact the party now is over and so the sequence of how we’re approaching this is as follows: Our immediate job is to stop the downward spiral and that means putting money into consumers’ pockets. That led to a contraction of credit which in turn meant that businesses couldn’t make payroll or inventories which meant that everybody became uncertain about the future of the economy so people started making decisions accordingly. And that by the way is important even if you are a fiscal conservative because the biggest problem we are going to have with our federal budget is that if we continue a situation where there are no tax revenues because economic growth is plummeting at the same time as we have more demands for unemployment insurance we’ve got more demands for people who have lost their health care. then over time other countries are going to get tired of lending us money and the party’s going to be over. He put the question into context: how and why the financial crisis began and the resulting snowball effect. He then conceptualized the steps to recovery. concise. but also lay the groundwork for economic growth. but isn’t consumer spending or overspending how we got into this mess and if people get money back into their pockets. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess. and in Obama we see much the opposite. Obama’s response showed that he had done his homework.6 The president’s reply walked us through the query in professorial style. what we had was a crisis in the financial system.6 Right Brain/Left Brain President your plan works the way you want it to work it will increase consumer spending. and that’s not going to be sustainable. it means loosening up credit. and come to sound conclusions. While the preceding example shows solid comprehension and decision making. Well first of all. reducing investments. a compelling. If all we’re doing is spending and we’re not making things.
” The article went on to list additional day-one actions by the president addressing a range of priorities at home and abroad. but he seems to then rely on proven theory. to think about something by recognizing a value contained within it. He finds utility where others might instead be dismissive.”7 Some might view this music genre as something they either like or don’t like. describing Obama’s steps as a “burst out of the starting gate. In fact. Bush. how a liberal versus a conservative would view the world. the Los Angeles Times wrote. Barack Obama moved decisively to distance himself from the previous administration. He moves seamlessly between right. reason. George W.” Other early actions taken by President Obama that were noted in same article included signing into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.The Obama Phenomenon 7 expands his intellectual potential tenfold. Roosevelt. He may cast a wide net of initial interest. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable. 2009. it’s insightful. Reading the following statement that he made once about hip-hop music is a simplistic yet poignant illustration of this point: “The thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart. Considering sizable possibilities to the extent that Obama does shows accelerated right-brain thinking while advanced analytics points to a pronounced left brain at work as well. the Canadian Press compared Obama’s action-oriented start to that of Franklin D. Obama thinks in more objective terms to consider that which is outside the norm. He has the uncommon ability to both consider vast possibilities and apply high-level scrutiny. for example. His consideration does not necessarily imply endorsement. “In a grinding first full day as president. the article noted an impressive start ten days into his presidency. nonetheless. perhaps even offensive.8 On January 29. While some may be uneasy about a man in his position who contemplates with such range. sending his $825 . but he is willing. Obama is anything but boundary-less. Now the question becomes. Obama also possesses an uncanny ability to truly appreciate the different or the unusual. pushing top military leaders for a plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and issuing a string of orders to make government more open. Obama has a genuine appreciation for diversity in thought. he extends beyond recognizing differences. can he translate his intellect into action? From Intellect to Action On January 22. For Obama. Others might find it strange.and left-brain thinking in order to glean the most that a circumstance has to offer. 2009. and context to build parameters and caveats upon which determinations are ultimately made. who was noted for passing fifteen major bills in three months during his first term as president. His thinking moves fluidly from the divergent to the convergent— starting from a wide array of data points and ultimately boiling points down to a sensible conclusion. Obama’s intellect has multiple distinct strong suits. signing bills and executive orders that countered some of the work of his predecessor.
Obama’s initial actions as president traversed multiple paths. In addition to acting with widened scope. 2009. that all those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests but are contrary to the interests of international peace. and even relaxing the White House dress code. We saw a man who thinks before he acts.S.8 Right Brain/Left Brain President billion stimulus package to Congress. that their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. many feared he was too intellectual. history and traditions. “What is your strategy for engaging Iran and when will you start to implement it? Will your timetable be affected at all by the Iranian elections and are you getting any indications that Iran is interested in a dialogue with the United States?” Consider the president’s response: I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people. From foreign policy to relationships with lawmakers at home to the economics of the nation and fiscal responsibility for his very own team. showing that he possessed not only diversity in thought—what he was willing to consider—but also diversity in what he was willing to commit to. but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region. Within his first few weeks in office we saw a flurry of activity across varied issues. Obama took a series of specific steps covering an assortment of matters at hand. too theoretical. in his actions. press conference illustrates this point. how the president’s thought process translates into action on a single issue is interesting. What I’ve also said is that we should take an approach with Iran that employs all of the resources at the United States disposal and that includes diplomacy. Obama demonstrated early on that his academic nature does not preclude action. When he was asked about his position on Iran. They questioned his authority. sitting down with congressional Republicans and hosting a bipartisanship cocktail party at the White House. attacking a problem from two sides. ordering the Transportation Department to come up with fuel-efficiency standards. A second clip from Obama’s February 9. My national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue. My expectation is in the coming months we will . one who moves through an all-encompassing discovery process while entertaining divergent and even disparate views and who then takes action across a broad plain. freezing salaries of his staff. their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. He seems to typically incorporate an action plan that is dual in nature. that he would not be able to move from intellect to action. as well. The actual question was. the president replied with a two-pronged approach. granting a televised interview to the Dubaibased Al-Arabiya news network. overturning the Bush administration’s ban on U. where we can directly engage with them. their bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel.9 While Obama’s intellect was well recognized during the campaign. funding to international family planning organizations.
and record unemployment. So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations but I think that there’s the possibility at least that there could be a relationship of mutual respect and progress and I think if you look at how we’ve approached the Middle East. Likely his fervor and sheer optimism made us believe in the promise of . that he was initially on the right track. than his actions alone. referred to as strong overall approval. Passion and Attitude Perhaps there is more to Obama’s high approval ratings. though. How. What of his passion and attitude? Given the state of the nation in February of 2009.The Obama Phenomenon 9 be looking for openings that can be created. Matters such as instituting higher fuel-efficiency standards. was the new president’s approach received by the public? Did his initial actions resonate well with the people? In a January 29–February 1. This two-pronged approach is not the usual politician flip-flopping on an issue.11 What can be concluded from early polling regarding his presidency was that Obama was off to a solid start in terms of the decisions he was making. though. the appointment of George Mitchell as a special envoy to help deal with the Arab-Israeli situation. He then begins to weigh his options. it indicates the degree to which we want to do things differently in the region. for the overall optimism level to be at 61 percent seems notable. and naming special envoys for the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan were areas of the president’s highest ratings. In the case of Iran. his overall job approval rating was 66 percent. opportunities where we can be sitting across the table. In summary. Perhaps Obama’s passion and enduring positive attitude were an added attraction.10 Obama intellectually comes to understand the situation from all angles. face to face diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policies forward in a new direction. There’s been a lot of mistrust built up over the years so it is not going to happen overnight and it is important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy that we are very clear about certain deep concerns we have as a country. tightening ethics rules for administration officials. with those rights comes responsibilities. That Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable. quickly translating those options into measured steps that address the situation from multiple sides. now it is time for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently as well and recognize that even as it has some rights as a member of the international community. but rather an insightful leader seeing the need to approach problems bilaterally. some of the interviews I’ve given. 2009. he sees the need to both open a dialogue as well as to make clear certain expectations. more businesses failing. limiting interrogation techniques on prisoners. the poll indicated that the president received respectable initial ratings. that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off an arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing. Gallup poll. with Wall Street continuing to plummet.
a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some. to choose our better history. On this day. all are free. At the same time he is sure to put us on notice about what we all need to do to contribute to the solution. every so often.12 In the president’s opening inaugural remarks we experience a leader coming into his charge well aware of the challenges and intending to face those challenges . that noble idea. we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises. and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. that for far too long have strangled our politics. Obama seems a believer in the premise that in the darkest of times. We remain a young nation. We see a man who smiles and laughs and who relaxes the crowd.10 Right Brain/Left Brain President good things to come. and true to our founding documents. On this day. Like his thinking. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit. Our economy is badly weakened. but in the words of Scripture. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. our schools fail too many. But know this. Our health care is too costly. Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. and that the next generation must lower its sights. America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office. Homes have been lost. The following portion of Obama’s inaugural address typifies the attitude and passion from which he leads. These are the indicators of crisis. So it has been. America: They will be met. They are serious and they are many. passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal. jobs shed. and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. Our nation is at war. At these moments. there is always a way out and that we will be stronger for it. the recriminations and worn-out dogmas. He reminds us that “yes we can” accomplish our goals. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. to carry forward that precious gift. So it must be with this generation of Americans. the time has come to set aside childish things. against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers. Yet. the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. Obama’s optimism can be bigger than life in what he projects can be achieved. businesses shuttered. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. we gather because we have chosen hope over fear. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land—a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable. while he is sure to stress the positive and the hopeful. He conveys simply and to the point what he expects. Obama’s attitude is two-pronged. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. subject to data and statistics. unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
The Obama Phenomenon 11 head-on. our recovery depends upon it. But in order to restore our financial system. It is first and foremost a line in the sand being drawn. and for what? We had been swindled by those who played an unsuspecting system for all it was worth. He declared that if we were to move from where we were to where we needed to be. Done and said in this manner. Obama. hat in hand. even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses. Others lost all or part of their life savings. As I said last week. It is meant to build us up rather than tear us down. My administration will do what it takes to restore our financial system. we’ve got to restore trust. referred to here as constructive intolerance. certain practices could no longer be tolerated. Obama is announcing his decision for an executive salary cap. We all need to take responsibility. when they were in trouble. was also demonstrating formidability. The passion and attitude conveyed through his words unleash a resolve and confidence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. Secretary Geithner will release a new strategy to get credit moving again—a strategy that will reflect the lessons of past mistakes while laying a foundation for the future.” Constructive intolerance is an assertive leadership action showing through both firm demarcation and rational argument why things must and will change. we’ve got to make certain that taxpayer funds are not subsidizing excessive compensation packages on Wall Street. even for those who are most opposed. How could we begin to settle the personal toll and injustice that was at that time occurring? Many had lost their jobs and homes. And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people. And so next week. His “yes we can” persona is adopted as our own. as an imposed boundary. Better still. it is hard to argue with. His enthusiasm excites us as he leverages the full weight of history to stake his claim. Constructive Intolerance While Obama’s passion is exhilarating and his attitude instills promise. Obama’s brand of limit setting was and is productive. And that’s exactly the kind of disregard for the costs and consequences of their actions that brought about this crisis: a culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else. That’s shameful. more specifically.13 Consider the following example of Obama’s constructive intolerance as he takes a stand on the controversial matter of executive pay. there is still the matter of reconciling all that had gone so terribly wrong. executive pay tied to government bailout moneys. Constructive intolerance is much like constructive criticism. Passion and positive thinking alone would not suffice. indicating that certain acts will no longer be permitted to occur. We frequently heard Obama relaying some version of the phrase “I will not tolerate this as president. that’s the height of irresponsibility. . though. And in order to restore trust.
We’re asking these firms to take responsibility. provides a context and a rationale. and to do so with someone else’s money.000—a fraction of the salaries that have been reported recently. and Ram Charan. We’re going to be demanding some restraint in exchange for federal aid—so that when firms seek new federal dollars. to recognize the nature of this crisis and their role in it. it will come in the form of stock that can’t be paid up until taxpayers are paid back for their assistance.S. Obama’s intent is to put the brakes on an out-of-control situation in productive fashion. to have a select few reward themselves for failure. taxpayers will have their compensation capped at $500. more importantly. And we believe that success should be rewarded. we remain at risk. we won’t find them up to the same old tricks. And if these executives receive any additional compensation. It instills the fundamental accountability. But what gets people upset—and rightfully so—are executives being rewarded for failure. As part of the reforms we are announcing today. Constructive intolerance is a key component to great leadership.S. Obama’s position stated in this manner is fairly difficult to argue with. Obama sets a firm limit. especially when those rewards are subsidized by U. He closes with a bottom line: what his administration is asking for. and integrity necessary for bona fide success. for these stakeholders to be realistic and to be a part of a logical solution. advisor to CEOs and top executives. what organizations and specifically leaders need to attend to in order to be successful. former chairman and CEO of Honeywell International. And we’re putting a stop to these kinds of massive severance packages we’ve all read about with disgust.12 Right Brain/Left Brain President This is America. We believe that what we’ve laid out should be viewed as fair and embraced as basic common sense. He is clear about his bottom line. top executives at firms receiving extraordinary help from U. . The book is about driving for results. without leaders themselves who are willing to properly open their eyes to issues such as these and to set and uphold limits. wrote a book called Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done.14 In this example. Larry Bossidy. the president walks us through a rationale that begins with what we need to know about the mistakes that were made and moves to the solution—in his mind the need to restore trust in our financial system as a precursor to restoring the system itself. Companies receiving federal aid are going to have to disclose publicly all the perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives and provide an explanation to the taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these expenses are justified. Without certain boundaries and. we’re taking the air out of the golden parachute. For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis is not only in bad taste —it’s a bad strategy — and I will not tolerate it as president. He calls out certain “shameful” self-serving practices and is explicit about what makes people most disgusted. fairness. taxpayers. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. We don’t disparage wealth.
He seemingly had a firm grasp on the daunting tasks his administration was facing. was with a community hit hard by the economic downturn. Barack Obama. We first knew Obama as a reserved. “Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate. and it appeared also that both his head and his heart were in the right place. thoughtful candidate. the then president-elect stated that they would like to find a rescue animal. He demonstrates time and time again a capacity for empathy. Momentary silence fell over the room. a deeper human side. looked her in the eye.17 This was not political posturing. I love you both so much. The president. and class to relate to a multitude of people. and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” Then he did something more. at a town hall meeting in Fort Myers.” 15 We see in Obama the makings of a leader who is willing to take a stand and not tolerate that which undermines fundamental and long-term success. that distinguishes him. His Human Side On February 10. we were coming to understand a number of things about our new president. and replied. A woman stepped up to the microphone declaring her family’s desperation. walked over to her. he is willing to model in himself what he expects of others. the newly inaugurated president. As he moves further into his presidency. we came to know Obama as a compassionate and committed partner in our struggles.” she pleaded. Furthermore. visibly moved by the moment. followed by gracious applause. The president stopped for a moment. race. gender. religion. In looking initially to find a rescue puppy Obama rather matter-of-factly exhibited the community-minded values he wants others to be thinking about.”16 When first questioned about what breed of dog the Obamas were considering. As the campaign wore on and later as he assumed office. Obama’s human side enables him to transcend age.The Obama Phenomenon 13 An interesting quote from their book is. You may recall the moving line from Obama’s acceptance speech: “Sasha and Malia. This was genuine human connection. “Please help us. Modeling seems an ingrained behavior for the president since it surfaced in a day-to-day aspect of his personal life. asked the woman her name. He had his initial direction sorted. . Slowly. Obama’s accentuated human qualities will afford the opportunity to foster renewed hope and personal accountability in the American people and to address problems at home and abroad that until now have seemed irreconcilable. Obama’s intent to make the White House and other government buildings greener in support of energy conservation is another such example of his modeling. Florida. Extending from his professionally poised intellectual persona was a genuineness. She was jobless and homeless. not sympathy. hugged the woman and gently kissed her on the cheek. “I am going to do my best. 2009. Obama showed his willingness to demonstrate the behaviors he expected from others when at the outset of his term he froze pay increases for his own team.
18 Stated simply and directly. • Obama asserts that the questionable treatment of prisoners of war is an inhumanity that cannot be justiﬁed. former Democratic leader Tom Daschle stepped down from nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services due to irregularities with his past tax filings. the president took full responsibility.14 Right Brain/Left Brain President Beyond compassion and empathy. one for powerful people and one for the ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes. I take responsibility for the appointees. as something we need to own up to.” When was the last time we heard a prominent leader say that? The exchange with Anderson Cooper went as follows: Cooper: Do you feel you messed up in letting it get this far? Obama: Yes. • Obama notes the inhumanity in health care as a privilege rather than a right. calling Washington politics badly broken. We also see a man who sees mistakes as an opportunity to learn. • Obama has described the diﬀerence between what he sees as free versus fair trade. With respect to Obama’s human side we see a man who possesses empathy and compassion. one who is genuine in his commitment to help. yet nonetheless revealing reference Obama made to how he would characterize this circumstance. What we see overall in terms of Obama’s human side is that he is grounded in morality and reason. another of Obama’s admirable human qualities is his ability to admit mistakes. Cooper: What was your mistake —letting it get this far or should you have pulled it earlier? Obama: I think my mistake is not in selecting Tom originally because I think nobody was better qualified to deal with both the substance and policy of health care. In early February 2009. Some examples of Obama’s moral imperative include the following: • Obama points to the distortion and erosion in values in America’s governing systems and processes. but also the politics which is going to be required to actually get it done. 2009. and in what works and what doesn’t. I think I made a mistake and I told Tom that. Obama replied. “What Washington needs is adult supervision”19 was one joking. admitted his mistake. in the difference between right and wrong. He understands it well as anybody. as a fact of life. I think I screwed up and I take responsibility for it and we’re gonna make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again. “I think I screwed up. no defensiveness or excuses. Cooper: Do you think you’ve lost some of your moral high ground you set for yourself on Day 1? Obama: Well I think this was a mistake. and walked us through his learning. when questioned about problems with Tom Daschle’s appointment. On February 3. on a CNN live interview with Anderson Cooper. But I think ultimately I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom up politics and I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards. .
Obama makes them the platform from which his policies will develop. Obama’s human side is punctuated by morality. Latino. George Lakoff. rich and poor. “Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers. many for the very first time in their lives. Added to that one-two punch is someone who leads by example and owns up to his own mistakes. he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the ‘cognitive unconscious. how Obama communicates his moral vision. because of what we did on this day. at this defining moment. the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. the United States of America. Power as an aspect of leadership is far more impactful in the long run than power as leadership in and of itself. white. that their voice could be that difference. In many ways we see in Obama quintessential human qualities that when melded with his core leadership skills equate to fundamental greatness. The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values. Democrat and Republican. but tonight.The Obama Phenomenon 15 While many may agree with these ideals in theory. and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. change has come to America.20 To sum up Obama’s human side we first would say that he is a sound and polished professional who also leads through true emotional connection.’ Speaking naturally. who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time. he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. Lastly. in this election. professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. disabled and not disabled—Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen. writes of Obama’s moral imperative. It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical. straight. making him someone we should be able to count on to do the right thing. It’s the answer spoken by young and old. gay. titled “The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code. As such Obama represents a significant step change from usual high-level authorities. Making History If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible. who still questions the power of our democracy. black. those whose qualities equate more with power. and always will be. If you follow him. It’s been a long time coming. because they believed that this time must be different. Asian.” The Lakoff article. and fearful. Native American. by people who waited three hours and four hours. Lakoff frames it around what he calls the Obama code.” is an important read that helps shed light on the president’s moral grounding. Lakoff writes. tonight is your answer.21 .
but it was still an electric shock. 2008. or blessed. Meredith went on to complete his education. believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. I was expecting it. a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal. Kennedy sent in federal troops and U. he was barred from entering Ole Miss.S. rising up against all odds to win the 2008 presidential election. The Phenomenon Recapped There are seven distinct aspects of Obama’s appeal.23 There have been countless Meredith-like instances in our lifetime — stories of inequality. General Powell had this to say on a CNN televised interview: “It hit me hard. we did it. and twenty-eight U. to name two of his distinguished accomplishments.S. Illinois. 1962. and on October 1. on November 4. It is a magnificent accomplishment and. He recalled his commanders telling him that they didn’t care about his background or race. Riots ensued. Barack. gave healing impetus to the ongoing fight for equality. lifestyle.”24 History was made as an important milestone barrier in human existence was broken. Just forty-some years ago James Meredith. early into his presidency. The violence resulted in two people dead. they cared only that he did what was expected of him and did it well. forty-eight soldiers injured. was the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi.16 Right Brain/Left Brain President Those infamous words were spoken by the first African American president of the United States in Chicago. they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. and President John F. and now. Colin Powell was the first African American member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African American Secretary of State. my kids were crying and I thought. as such. The election of Barack Hussein Obama. Marshals to restore order. graduating in 1963 with a degree in political science. he is holding onto and in fact growing that allure: . They would give me an African name. in fact it was a monumental civil rights event. “My parents shared not only an improbable love. Meredith’s admission was far from routine. that have scarred our lives.”22 In his interview General Powell recounted memories of the army as a place where he was treated as an equal and thereby able to excel. I was sitting in my chair. sparking moving commentary from a man who had until that moment held the highest-ranking position in the United States for an African American. Obama’s election marked a dramatic step change in our civil rights movement. Meredith was denied admission twice. Powell’s contemporary. based on race. an African American with an unusual name. gender. Think of the civil rights milestones Powell saw in his lifetime. Obama. I supported him. What a great country America is. Obama commented. Marshals wounded by gunfire. is the crowning glory on his leadership allure.
referred to as constructive intolerance. Added to that one-two punch is someone we can count on who is grounded in what’s right. above all. He was measured in his words. It was this initial unobtrusive persona that allowed those around him to speak and him to listen. . • The nature of his intelligence—Obama’s eagerness to consider new possibilities expands his intellectual potential tenfold. He weighs his options and quickly translates those options into measured steps that attack an issue from multiple sides. He not only sees things from diﬀerent perspectives but has an uncanny ability to appreciate the unusual. • His formidability—Obama demonstrated early on in his presidency that he was formidable. Better still. Obama’s brand of limit setting is productive. He possesses a genuine appreciation for diversity. certain actions could no longer be tolerated. and who accepts and admits to his own mistakes. • His human qualities—Obama’s human side juxtaposes sound and polished professionalism with true emotional connection. polite and unassuming in demeanor. • His passion and positive attitude—The passion and attitude Obama conveys unleash a resolve and conﬁdence born from fundamental beliefs in the power of the human spirit. a powerful one-two punch. and. leading by example.The Obama Phenomenon • An unassuming beginning—Obama came to us with a quiet strength. an African American with an unusual name. He took note and began a lengthy discovery process of the complex issues his nation was facing. • He made history—The election of Barack Hussein Obama. It is a magniﬁcent accomplishment and as such a moving element of Obama’s remarkable appeal. 17 How then did Obama become who he is today? What is attributable to his makeup and what to his experiences? Why is Obama able to leverage his brain differently than perhaps the typical leader. gave great impetus to our ongoing global ﬁght for equality. to act beyond behavioral preferences with such facility? These are the questions to be answered next. He showed that if we were to move from where we were to where we wanted to go. thoughtful in his approach. • Actions we can support—Obama intellectually comes to understand situations from all angles.
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beginning with the complexities of his background. In terms of the consistencies in Obama’s life. Obama’s biracial background was his most defining contrast. In exploring the interplay of his heredity. he was from two worlds. I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds. yet there were many others. His mother was a white woman born in the Midwest. Certain stabilities were ever present while contradictions were posed to him at nearly every life juncture. This very milieu. came from the more striking multifarious life circumstances surrounding his familial path. Obama’s father was a black man from a prominent Kenyan family. on the other hand. with his life experiences. Distinctions and incongruities. what is referred to as nature. and married while both were students at the University of Hawaii. understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning. fell in love. the disparities and constants will be revealed. As the preceding quote reflects. Each parent was notable in ability . In fact. there was also much in his lineage that was shared. appears to have been a rich breeding ground for his unique leadership traits. his was a life juxtaposed. She was an only child from a middle-class home.Chapter 2 The Nature / Nurture of Leadership As it was. one of kindred links and vast distinctions. one requiring continuous reconciliation of what remained constant in his life with that which diverged. Yet as far apart as those worlds were. the most pronounced is the fixed and central role his mother and her parents played. what is referred to as nurture. — Barack Obama1 A Life Juxtaposed In understanding how Barack Obama became the leader he is today there is much to sort through. The two met. convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere.
Michelle. How do genetics and our environment work in consort to determine behavioral outcomes? The Luck of the Draw The precise formula for how much of our makeup is attributable to genetics versus the environment remains under debate. He attended college in California. Obama attended public. Barack grew up exposed to the nuances of culture from this very beginning. and daughters. Following his father’s death he journeyed to Kenya hoping to settle his heritage. In Obama ’s case. and Boston. five categories of influence are considered. each locale and experience distinct. though. strong suits in what he inherited (intelligence-wise) and how his mind was encouraged make for nature/nurture conclusions to be more readily drawn. and faith Life with wife Michelle and their children The distinct configuration of these impacts allowed Obama to in fact coalesce a potent result. is punctuated by the traditional family stability he himself had not experienced. Theorists can agree. Sasha and Malia. His life with wife. He was exposed further to diversity growing up in Hawaii amid mixed ethnic and social groups and living for four years as a young boy in Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. Obama had extraordinary inspirations to provide guidance and to feed his compelling potentials. While some individuals may have been lost in the complexities of such an uncharacteristic life. peoples. reaching across communities. basic background information may prove helpful. Throughout Obama ’s life he had only brief contact with his father and little connection to his father’s family.20 Right Brain/Left Brain President and perspective. private. . He was exposed to varied faiths and religions and came ultimately to his own spiritual choice. and political parties with the aim of building unity.2 Looking back over Barack Obama’s composite existence. The extent to which our environment can impact our intellectual propensity is part of the larger deliberation. and international schools and was for a time homeschooled by his mother as a supplement to his Indonesian education. that our intelligence is to a great extent the result of our genes. for example. As Obama’s life evolved he was faced with the isolation and inhumanity of racism along with the embrace and adoration of millions. His career was an outgrowth of his own existence. They are as follows: • • • • • What he inherited from and experienced through his parents The inﬂuences of his maternal grandparents The impact of his stepfather and experiences in Indonesia Education. To begin. New York. Understanding both who Obama is and how he came to be engenders reverence for his uncommon brand of leadership. career.
Such is the case for many physical traits — eye and hair color. functional. Estimates range as low as 20. Ethology. genetic configurations shuffle again in a dancelike process called crossing over. Certain characteristics are influenced by a single gene pair. A Sociocultural Context One’s makeup can be further configured based on the nature of traits themselves. The sheer variation in numeric guesswork points out the complexities of it all. but the random nature of splitting that occurs during conception nets infinite trait possibilities. Still. one pair part from one parent and one pair part from the other. Our genetic makeup is part of an intricate code to our traits. Opportunities afforded us along with the values and expectations of key figures can impact academic performance. while our phenotype represents our observable characteristics. We could carry a trait that is unexpressed in us per se. Ethology takes into account all aspects of one’s life while also striving to find not so much how we are different from one another. therefore. As he is an only child but has several half-siblings.000 and as high as 100. but remains a part of our makeup and therefore passes along to future generations. examines interweaving aspects of one’s biological. he will share fewer traits with them. As a result Obama may share certain traits with his parents and some perhaps with his grandparents.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 21 With respect to our genetic inheritance we each possess a still undetermined number of genes. With each step closer to understanding our full genome. and cultural heritage.000. This is why siblings possess as many disparities as they do likenesses. Our genes are carried on chromosomes in pairs. to be genetically the same. but that which is common across cultures as a result . Some traits are dominant and some recessive. the luck of the draw. Intelligence is one such trait. and what is the nature of his varied mental abilities? These are two interesting queries to probe. Intelligence is first of all multifaceted. those influenced by both genes and the environment. in all. They are the result of multiple gene pairs and multifactorial traits. Intelligence is thought to be at least to some extent influenced by one’s environment. the study of behavior in the context of environment. his genetic code represents a one-ofa-kind constellation. Behaviors and abilities are not as straightforward. and for certain illnesses as well. Our genotype is our actual genetic composition. Moments before actual conception. for example. the estimate adjusts up or down. with the exception of identical twins. making it more or less likely that a trait will be passed on. it is actually a collection of traits with multiple genes involved in its formulation. Crossing over makes it virtually impossible for any two individuals. Varied abilities make up one’s intelligence quotient (IQ). An ethological perspective is important when examining Obama’s development.3 Which factors may have contributed to Obama ’ s brain power.
Using this game will more simply illustrates how nature /nurture dynamics occur. One arcade game stands out as an applicable analogy. when the environment has greater impact on our learning than at other times. if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it. Many social behaviors are also considered to be influenced by sensitive periods. The steps move back and forth independently. The ethological perspective would factor into his genetic inheritance the adjustments he had to make in the context of a cross-cultural existence. Through his personal life path he had come to know the shared aims of people.4 Ethology provides an interesting perspective when examining someone with Obama’ s diverse roots and encounters. that from unity we find salvation. perhaps coinciding with specific aspects of physical maturation. Someone with a more homogenous existence would have had less opportunity to develop such insights as intimately as he. Picture a large square machine with glass windows at eye level on all four sides. This example is presented as a visualization exercise ( good too for brain development).6 It will be interesting to investigate which of Obama’s behaviors may have been impacted by such sensitive periods. and .5 Ethology looks also at certain times. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America.22 Right Brain/Left Brain President of our overarching biological heritage. As coins pass over the edge they fall into a collection bucket as a player’ s winnings. for example. . Obama ’ s outlook. Through the windows you are staring with fascination at three tiered steps piled with coins — quarters. reflects an ethological inclination. then we might not solve every problem. so be patient and play along. ethology would zero in on commonality across Obama’s human experience. . called sensitive periods. In the following words spoken repeatedly during his campaign for the presidency. Most importantly. to be exact. Learning language is one such example. . Such a theoretical view could help explain the ultimate professional vision Obama came to both for his country and for the world. the development of muscles in the larynx enables greater ease in the formation of uttered sounds. . there ’s the United States of America. . what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. Nature / Nurture Simpliﬁed How then does the nature/nurture equation boil down to straightforward terms? As a child I spent summers at a beach community with many arcades and boardwalk entertainment venues nearby. . Obama makes the case for that which we all share: We have a stake in one another . but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth . It is easier for a child to learn language at certain times. . pushing the coins closer and closer to an edge. It would acknowledge the struggles of a biracial existence.
Each time you play (adding in coins) it represents a life experience and/or a key influence (some good. and finally. Think of the movement of the steps as your normal maturational process. his stepfather and time in Indonesia. I won’t try to describe how deeply I mourn her passing still. career. . Inﬂuences. as most everyone came to call her. Stanley. his education. Each will be examined as related to an ultimate leadership impact whether from individuals. your development unfolding from birth through adulthood. Obama’s life was such that his innate robust markers were complemented by key influences. and their children. experiences. Quarters that fall over the edge become the manifestation of your behaviors and abilities. moving coins closer still to the promised land. and that what is best in me I owe to her. As your coins are added in. they represent your behaviors and abilities evolving in the context of culture and the environment. —Barack Obama 7 Barack and his mother shared an enduring bond born from love. come from precise and improbable combinations of strong innate markers/good genes (vast numbers of bright and shiny coins lined up close to the edge) along with frequent and diverse prompting from the environment (continuous plays combined with frequent accelerated jolts). intermittent exaggerated movements are programmed in. As play goes on and more coins drop. her joy. his mother. most generous spirit I have ever known. The quarters fall randomly onto one of the steps. some bad). (Stanley) Ann Dunham In my daughters I see her every day. and moments. her capacity for wonder. Eventually quarters do fall over the edge. Michelle. and no doubt the challenge one faces growing up with an unusual name. or timing. and your prize is realized. as representative of your genetic makeup. Her middle name was Ann. Exceptional behavioral qualities. circumstances. I know that she was the kindest. and faith. Accelerated jolts symbolize sensitive periods —opportune life moments. changing the configuration further.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 23 To play the game you insert quarters one at a time. To increase the likelihood of a win. the configuration shifts and you stand a chance of winning some money. Some quarters are bright and shiny ( representing positive traits) while others are dull or marred (representing negative traits). stocked with quarters. Obama’s life with wife. such as what we see from Obama’ s brand of leadership. Obama’s mother was named after her father. Stanley Senior was apparently expecting a boy. Experiences. his maternal grandparents. We begin first with Obama’s key orchestrator. and Moments We come now to Obama ’s five key influences — his parents. The coins this machine came equipped with are in essence your single-gene expressed traits and multiple gene propensities. shared qualities. Think of one of these machines brand new.
and perspective. Obama relays that she taught him the following values: • • • • Honesty — plainly and simply. as we often heard Obama reference the moment along with his mother ’s direct quote in public addresses on the campaign trail. Texas. Ann’s interests were less about her immediate social sphere and more about the issues facing humanity. where she remarried and had a second child. While Ann was gentle at heart and viewed the world through an open lens. Maya. Her perspective and concerns would ultimately take her to a life that transcended typical borders. after her marriage to Barack Obama Senior. Straight talk — be direct. Not surprising that such a woman gave rise to a son whose vision was to change the world. She lived twice each in Kansas and Washington and in California. following a divorce from Barack’s father. say what you mean. do not lie. Son Barack was born during the early part of her education. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. She seemingly impressed her son with her passion and her perseverance. unfazed by the resistance of an opposed youngster. Obama references his mother ’s unwavering determination and rebut to her son’s objections as she worked with him tirelessly day in and day out to enhance his Indonesian education. She worked in the field of rural development supporting human rights and the rights of women. Years later.”10 Ann’s tact was notably effective. Though her second marriage ended in divorce as well. Fairness — what is good for one is good for all. Obama describes being awakened by his mother every morning at 4:00 a. she was also forthright in her convictions. Her colleagues and influences transcended race. She worked hard to pass her academic ethic on to her son. Independent judgment — be your own person.m. Ann’s name was far from her only distinction. Ann and then six-year-old Barack moved to Indonesia. compassion. She studied at the University of Hawaii and earned a PhD in anthropology. her career remained centered in Asia. She was both intellectually disposed and learning driven. . Obama’s mother possessed a quiet strength. and Hawaii.8 Of his mother. Hers were not the usual teenage preoccupations.9 In addition to her basic values. She was seen by her peers as a forward thinker well beyond her years and time. He recalls that she was tenacious in her approach. and interminable resolve. not to mention her love and commitment. requiring introductions to a new group of snickering peers each time. class. She provided disciplined instruction. In his autobiography. Her intellect. and quest for justice set her apart. marked compassion. even tutoring him for a time while they lived in Indonesia. buster. form your own impressions. Oklahoma. relaying a potent and charming defense: “This is no picnic for me either.24 Right Brain/Left Brain President Stanley Ann’s challenge was compounded by the number of times she and her family moved. for his lessons.
so he himself was abandoned and raised by his stepmother. and a champion both of him and for the world’s injustices. The Audacity of Hope.11 When reading Obama’s recollections of his mother one can’ t help but feel her as an inspiring presence. From mother Ann. Obama would receive the necessary orientation to iteratively face and come to terms with the inconsistencies of his being. He was later accepted with scholarships to both Harvard University and New York’s New School. Barack Senior Barack Senior was described as a mischievous child and confident adult. Obama grew from a solid foundation and could ultimately chart a meaningful course. her basic commitment to understand the plight of others. In doing so she paved the way for son Barack to assimilate that which his father and stepfather could offer and pass on. where he earned a PhD. a teacher. magnanimous spirit. He spoke of her unending compassion and thoughtfulness for others. He relayed how committed and determined she was to meet her goals and how passionately she approached her causes. a man noted for being clear in his beliefs and able to hold true to them. he was the first president of the International Students Association. a protector. Obama’s appreciation of the unusual no doubt was born from his mother’s wonderment. honesty. Obama described her valuescentric approach to life. From his mother ’s intellect. He was the son of a tribal elder and prominent farmer. From Stanley Ann ’s acceptance and tolerance her son’ s own empathic lens was roused. worldview. her benevolence. and transformational perspective. His mother maintained amicable relationships with both former husbands. almost to a fault. the first of which was to his father’s world. A leader at heart. She sought to instill in her children enduring. He and Barack’s mother were by then divorced but maintained a friendship and bond. Barack Senior was a capable student chosen by his country’s government to study in the United States. positive impressions of their fathers. It would be difficult to not be stirred by such a person. and unfaltering love would spring crucial aspects of Obama’s character. and integrity. As a result of her maternal brand—that of a tender soul mate. Obama speaks more of the cherished role his mother played in who he had become. At the University of Hawaii he was their first African student. He graduated in three years at the top of his class and was inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa society. She was both full of life and fascinated with its intricacies.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 25 In his second book. He left his wife and two-year-old son Barack in Hawaii to attend Harvard. Barack Senior ’s mother left her husband and children. opening many doors. traits and perspectives that from a missing father or his stand-in are more typically thwarted.12 . He returned to Kenya following his studies to support his country ’ s development.
and race distinctions. Obama detailed a story about his father’s handling of racist comments at a local Waikiki bar. Yet. Barack Senior was able to draw in his listeners. yet someone also gentle in spirit. not to mention his classmates’ reactions to his unfamiliar name. passionately about what all people have in common. We can envision a speaker of impressive wisdom. Instead. and positive ease. a power was perhaps sparked in his son. Their sense of wonder was heightened. The eloquence and magnetism we see in Obama today may in fact emanate from distinct paternal traits kindled in this sensitive moment. this story would repeat in memory and meaning for his son. The origin of Obama’s own inner spokesperson was being fashioned. fearing it would worsen the existing divide with his peers. and the like.14 Interesting facts appeared to be carefully interwoven with dramatic appeal. Obama and his father would have only occasional written contact in the years to come.26 Right Brain/Left Brain President A defining account of his father’s demeanor was relayed in Obama’s autobiography. through the additional recollections of his . sincerity. however. confidence. perhaps helping to shape a context and propensity for how discourse could be addressed. one man blurted out his disgust with having to share his evening with a black man. His adjustment to the school had been difficult amid social. and gestures. Obama referenced how his father seemed able to quickly captivate his classmates through his presence. Over time. and fervor. to teach them of Kenyan culture and African landscapes and to interest them in the plight of his people. Obama described that his teacher. tribes. Barack Senior quietly and politely approached the man in question and attempted to preach to him about the evils of his thinking and of what good can come when we respect one another. this time not a story he heard but an event Obama himself witnessed. This man’s exact words were far cruder than my rendering. Obama described further how his father ended with a unifying perspective. The instance took place one evening when Barack Senior joined his father-in-law and some friends for a quiet social respite. Obama was then attending prep school Punahou Academy. speaking directly and. one can assume. the event proved to be surprisingly interventional. one able to express himself well in the moment. with talk of lions. Told also in his memoirs. It was an interesting illustration if nothing else for how to keep your cool and take a leadership high road. During that visit a particular event stood out in Obama’s recount. and analogous logic. When Obama was ten years old his father came to Hawaii for a brief stay. Barack Senior used this encounter to positively sway rather than to avenge. To everyone’ s surprise. commanding presence. This was a tale told to Obama by his grandparents and coincidentally confirmed by another source later on. As such. Anticipating his father’s appearance caused great angst for the young Obama.13 From this portrayal we picture a man who influences through knowledge. words. Obama came to believe the account was accurate. the students’ imaginations were roused. requested that he come and speak at his class about life in Kenya. Through his father’s fluidly expressed perspectives. knowing his father was in the area. While most patrons were enjoying themselves. class.
He had eight children. were constant. the other tried and true. then to Obama ’s mother. Barack Senior’s ultimate personal and professional success was compromised. existed within the confines of perhaps a restless discontent. better able to press on. nerve. What else was known was that Barack Senior worked as an economist. whom he called Gramps and Toot. led decent lives. He married three times. He points to a need to face his circumstance and to find closure. eventually becoming senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. first to a Kenyan woman. His grandfather was a salesman. not the least of which is evident in the abandonment of his son. As basic as they were in most respects. and his grandmother painstakingly worked her way up from secretary to first woman vice president of a local bank. respected those around them. His grandparents’ lives reflected in so many ways what is good and basic about Americans.15 Upon hearing of his father’s death Obama made plans to journey to Kenya. They were hardworking. loving figures in his life. and then to an American he met while attending Harvard. They raised Obama for a time while his mother and half sister remained in Indonesia. they each possessed certain . He was likely a serious student and a man of convictions. articulate. his namesake left to contend with a father’s convoluted legacy. We can see many of these positives in his son. Stanley and Madeline Dunham appeared to be completely committed to their grandson. while his grandmother’s cornerstones were steadfastness and good old-fashioned common sense. and charismatic. placed family first. it seems. some of which were controversial and as such hampered his career. In a chronicle from that time Obama describes an urgency he felt to unify the pieces of his life. and insight. to complete his own story by once and for all confronting both the void of his father’s neglect and the nature of Obama’s own ultimate ties. His merits. was a brilliant man. One was adventurous. He could be poised. President Obama’s handling of this most personal struggle is a testament to his resolve and an indicator perhaps of his present-day ability to constructively and ably manage those who cross the line.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 27 mother and grandparents Barack Senior’s favorable attributes would continue to be reinforced. Obama’s father. though. Gramps and Toot Obama’s maternal grandparents. and son Barack Obama was his only namesake. moving through such a chasm and emerging resolved. He published various papers. Obama’s grandfather had a gregarious nature. Barack Senior’s tragic 1982 death followed a series of misfortunes in his later life.16 From a leadership perspective it speaks to Obama’s ability to confront and to reconcile trying circumstances. a defining moment with respect to one’s personal honesty. and tried to set a good example for their daughter and grandchildren. Theirs became the story of rather typical parents whose only child embarked on an atypical life. More poignantly. speaks to leadership courage.
their family home was destroyed. as he was called) had his mother by his side to brace the experience. that her family rebuffed. Indonesia itself. unfiltered. Lolo Soetoro. certain of life’s confusions were clarified. Their unobtrusive company over the course of Obama’s childhood may have braced periods of inner void. It . Questions like. Indonesia was raw. and through casual conversations with Gramps and Toot.17 Special Man / Special Place Obama lived for several years with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. and his mother was left to flee with her nine remaining children. when Barack was about age six to age ten. His grandmother hailed that small part of her own Native American heritage. They were a gentle push when he was apprehensive and a buffer against his overwhelming existential truths. He saw immense poverty and deprivation. Lolo had firsthand experience with the stark realities of life. existence. From this origin. giving way to Ann’s defining characteristics. Obama’s grandfather wrote poetry and had a great sense of wonder. Cherokee to be exact. why did he and Mom get married?” may have filled a young Obama’s mind. While Obama lived with his mother and Lolo in Indonesia he himself witnessed certain forms of harshness and experienced unusual customs.28 Right Brain/Left Brain President distinctions. and even treacherous. sheltered somewhat from the scrutiny someone older would possess. Lolo was the youngest of ten children. He met Barack’s mother while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. He was described by Obama as a caring and committed presence. Perhaps the fact that Obama was so young afforded him a more palpable view of the experience. His father and brother were killed during the Indonesian national revolution. Theirs was a fascinating testament to both the intricacies of genetics and the power of close familial relationships.S. Lolo. as interpreter and guide. In comparison to Obama’s U. Lolo himself had a traumatic past. What his mother had to offer in terms of nurturing and hope for how the world could be was coupled with Lolo’s insistence on how in fact it was. Obama’s grandparents also told stories that inadvertently provided answers to many of his unasked questions. Obama’s time with Lolo and his mother in Indonesia may also have been important in another respect. though. “Who was my father. rituals. was an extraordinary playground for a young boy. a faraway place. As Obama walked the tightrope of his own reconciliatory process. Gramps and Toot seemed there to catch him if he fell.18 Of equal bearing. and habits. He could take in much of Indonesia’s strife. Young Barack (or Barry. was Obama’s mother’s complementary support. what was he like. Their collective nuances took hold in their daughter. It was Ann’s parents’ support of who she was and the life she chose that would act as a safety net of sorts for both her and her son. For several years. This in and of itself must have been of great comfort. primal. He also had his stepfather. Lolo taught his stepson how to pragmatically navigate life with an extraordinary cultural context as backdrop.
for a time. Readiness is about the circumstances under which . or. Obama returned to Hawaii around his tenth birthday. a leader. such a need. Always. A most striking account of his educational process is shown in how he first came to understand racism. Certainly the picture of blacks and whites depicted by his family did not match up with this horrifying fact. he would come to realize the limitations of his current knowledge base. He had been living in Indonesia for three years when the epiphany occurred. Obama contemplated the various maladies the man may have had.”19 On Education From his initial educational experiences in Indonesia to his postgraduate schooling at Harvard. her support.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 29 afforded Obama his only approximation to traditional family life as he lived with a mother and father and. Obama is in fact a student of life. Interested by one photo in particular. with his new baby half sister. it would be up to him to ensure that the subject matter was both fully exposed and amply dissected. Confronted with a startling reality. In Lolo’s words. along with Lolo’s shoring of Obama’s fortitude.S. he began reading what he thought would be an article about a man who was gravely ill. Though he kept his fears to himself he described the experience as forever changing his perspective. and a man. more to the point. perhaps readied Obama for life’s later challenges. even by those with the best of intentions. Knowledge forced the difficult questions and provided the critical answers. Maya. how perhaps you need to be empowered in your own learning process. education. He took with him a responsible and respectable father figure’s perspective of the importance of inner strength. He was shocked to discover that the man was black and had undergone botched skin treatments to make himself appear white! The thought of such a process. how she saw people. his mother wanting him to have the benefit of continued U. “If you can’t be strong. And while his mother’s perspective may have been subjective. While his mother’s embracing perspective could set foundational knowledge. but the significant forces looking out for him ensured a foundation solid enough to withstand the inner quake. He stumbled onto a Life magazine and was looking at the photographs. Responding favorably when seemingly prompted or pushed is what learning theorists refer to as readiness. he couldn’t help wondering why that position now seemed so incomplete. Obama’s then kindled critical thinking would prove to be his hardwired approach to life’s complexities. While he respected his mother’s worldview. shook Obama’s world. He found out the hard way that facts could be skewed. Obama’s initial discovery of prejudice may have shaken him in the moment. But always better to be strong yourself. be clever and make peace with someone who is strong.20 From this harsh reality Obama was forced to think about learning in a different light. each learning chapter chronicled Obama’s development as a student. Obama describes that he and his mother were at her place of work and he was left to occupy himself in the library.
Obama had his first foray into public speaking. the first of many defining speaking engagements to follow. More specifically. California. Previously.21 Though it may not have felt like it at the time. that of a captivating speaker. A young person’s college existence is a time for sorting a direction. the passion in his voice. His exact reference was this: “Her voice sounded different to me now.30 Right Brain/Left Brain President someone is able to take in knowledge.”23 . he had heard despair and vulnerability in her voice. a leadership cornerstone of his today. Obama reports a period later on at Punahou Academy when he withdrew socially. Obama was at a critical maturational point when he discovered the provocative Life magazine article. academic and social experiences fuel personal and professional growth. homeschooled. nudging one toward further knowledge when the matter under consideration is aimed just beyond one’s current scope. He would connect directly with a passion for public speaking. when listening to the singer. Beneath the layers of hurt. Obama was primed to handle this realization. Obama unleashed his own brand of expressive facility. would come to bear in Obama’s finding his own voice. and private settings for elementary and secondary school and competitive colleges and universities. it may actually have been a time of healthy detachment and reflection as he continued sorting through the maze of his existence. Perhaps this moment was the beginning of his reflective nature. he found his time there painfully crystallizing. Through the words chosen.22 Obama’s undergraduate years would mark two notable leadership milestones. that which learning theorist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky referred to as a Zone of Proximal Development. Vygotsky believed that under the right circumstances learning can hasten development. His father’s influence. Endure—and make music that wasn’t there before. it would become the basis for his evolution into the consummate thinker he is today. One of only a few other black students. while his mother’s humanitarian plight would contribute to Obama’s newfound direction. Perhaps at his disposal was the memory of his father’s address to Obama’s classmates long ago at Punahou. Though his mother and perhaps by Obama himself saw it as a low point. Obama relays this key moment as an awakening. Obama himself now readily engaged his audience just as his father once did. When you are on your own for the first time. and the emotional connection to his fellow students. More importantly. I heard a willingness to endure. how he would make his life contribution. Upon entering Occidental College in Los Angeles. He was participating in a student rally and found himself front and center. confirmed while listening to an admired blues artist’s recording. beneath the ragged laughter. Until then he had felt constrained but was slowly evolving to see possibilities before him. and he would frame his professional positioning. Now he heard an inner strength. His preparatory experience at Punahou Academy would serve not only to enrich his mind but also to bring his social and racial challenges to the forefront. speaking before a crowd for the first time. He heard promise. Obama would draw from the potent combination of past influences and present opportunities to begin to shape his future. Obama’s rich educational experiences in all included foreign.
Obama began his work as a community organizer in Chicago.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 31 For Obama. deciding he wanted additional education. yet it is actually a substantive vehicle for developing and exercising broad-based leadership skills. As a community organizer Obama had to influence without rank. beginning with its resource constraints. The varying brands of determination. It doesn’t pay particularly well. Many he worked with in Chicago thought he wouldn’t return. someone others trusted and would aspire to be like. Obama opted to work in a setting where he could have direct impact on the people themselves. To get anything accomplished you must be able to leverage marked networking and consensusbuilding skill. he would consider an outlook more future focused. He had to become a role model. Through this work. and with limitless opportunities to choose from he came back to Chicago to continue the work he had begun there. He had to work with little to no infrastructure and deliver results in spite of those limitations in order to establish basic credibility. He had to demonstrate an understanding of the people’s circumstances and provide knowledge in a way that was accepted.24 On Faith Going back for a moment to the period just before Obama was to enter Harvard. impact their lives. Community organizing is far from a glamorous line of work. Community organizing is atypically challenging in the intricacies of how one actually makes an impact. relying instead on multiple forms of interpersonal and functional impact. He had come from a long line of individuals steeped in convictions. learned first from his mother and reinforced from each key familial influence. to live where they lived and. It is work that in many respects requires you to act from a wider leadership platform than if you had positional authority. he left to attend Harvard Law School. but he completed his degree. to fit in and to redirect. It carries with it little if any direct hierarchical authority. In community organizing he would choose. Obama was able to explore the bounds of his purpose and test his ability to inspire and make an impact. A Career Path Obama’s work as a community organizer would eventually follow. born of prospects and fortitude. a grassroots direction. in effect. as did his mother.and left-brain abilities into leadership strong suits. Now was his time to leverage those forces into his own personal brand. It was through the role of community organizer that Obama would begin to. coalesce his primed right. Obama would drive change in ingrained systems and mindsets and leverage the expanse of his knowledge base into plausible solutions. and after a time. You must be able to inspire and engage. Instead. it was time to rise above his immediate scope and shed past lament. another developmental milestone would occur. in their own unique way would pave a fresh path forward. That event was Obama’s formal . through that connection.
He respects her as an intellectual partner. an affiliation. So on that Sunday and in a specific church Obama embraced his faith. she in essence practiced her faith through her values. He has described the First Lady as the love of his life. He had been raised to understand and appreciate all religions but not to subscribe to any one set of formal beliefs. From that perspective Obama’s esteem seems in a . These likenesses indicate that Michelle Obama in fact epitomizes a modern-day feminine force. Above all. He relays that through the preacher’s poignant message and the congregation’s moving embrace. endured tough times. and now in his personal life. he was reaching out to local churches. and the work /life ethic of Hillary Clinton. Obama met Michelle the summer after his first year of law school while interning at the Chicago firm Michelle worked for. he sought a communal connection. though she herself did not experience her spirituality through formal religion. As the service unfolded he found himself touched in a deeply personal way by the experience. Instead. and a genuine sense of commitment to all that she does. and through it all stayed true to each other. Newscasters have commented on First Lady Michelle as collectively possessing traits of several former White House matriarchs. in work. He seemed clear in his desire to be connected. her parents committed to their marriage and children. Obama came to understand that unlike his mother.27 It is thought that you can judge the self-worth of an individual from the stability of the partner they commit to.25 Michelle Robinson Obama was coming into his own. Not surprising that within the same time frame he fell in love with Michelle Robinson. how everyone seems to take to his wife so readily. a honed internal compass. one sees in the First Lady integrity.32 Right Brain/Left Brain President engagement in a religious faith. and equally at ease as an accomplished professional. Obama was soon after baptized into the Christian religion. the candor of Betty Ford. and as an accomplished individual. As part of his community organizing work. The Robinson family lived a decent.26 Early in her tenure as First Lady. She has been said to have the allure of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Within a formal religious tradition he would find kinship. She grew up in a traditional household. Obama revels at her appeal. The definitive grounding we see in Michelle Robinson Obama emanates from her family. Michelle Obama demonstrated her character depth and broad appeal. He was a part of a community and he would in fact belong. as a wife and mother. the compassion of Rosalynn Carter. She is comfortable in her beauty. In his life history Obama describes one Sunday morning when he attended a particular church service. her soft side. as possessing deep beauty through and through. humble life. Obama found what he realized to be a missing element of his life. He referred to his mother as one of the most spiritual people he knew. She frequently references the impact her family life had on her. in faith. She represented everything he had come to cherish and appreciate.
in contributing substantively and in legendary fashion. but also to affirm his plight. In addition to Obama’s primary influences there is also the timing of events to consider. Overall. Barack Senior’s lifelong absence left his son to reconcile a primal loss. Obama’s mother and he had an unbreakable bond. Obama’s maternal grandparents were rock solid in how they cared for their grandson. they themselves possessed certain distinctions. Obama’s work in community organizing helped not only to bring out his influencing skills. a chronology unfolded that led him to where he is today. His mother’s humanitarianism would move him to a world of potential contribution. Everything he came from and all he came to know pointed to the promise of renowned contribution. and eventual spiritual and family connections moved him through his self-discovery.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 33 very good place. . Living in Indonesia with a loving family as a very young boy afforded him unique exposures through a palpable lens. While they led an average life. Obama’s father may have made a significant impression through relayed family stories and on his lone visit. With daughters Sasha and Malia they would carve out their future together. Added to what were exceptional hardwired traits. professional life. Obama’s childhood. Grounded in learning. Obama embraced faith at a propitious moment. and Barack Obama’s life would be complete. All in all. Barack and Michelle Obama joined to build a family of their own. Obama was stretched developmentally. Stepfather Lolo Soetoro took on the role of a typically committed stepdad but did so in the context of his distinct culture. driven through work. His marriage to Michelle and his resulting fatherhood was his personal affirmation. Learning as he did about racism and from the context of his mother’s life perspectives set the tone for how he would become empowered in his own learning. Heritage Recapped Obama has had a less than ordinary life journey. but by virtue of the continuous and devoted supports he could draw from. and abilities. however. he was able to firmly establish his identity and sort an ultimate life direction. All in all. His push to the presidency validated his professional reach as Obama became the next of history ’s groundbreaking leaders. and comforted by faith and family. As a young college student he drew from his father ’s past image as he took his first foray into public speaking. his ultimate inner strength was brought to life and his integrated rightand left-brain style thrived. This is where he would seat himself. behaviors. he progressively built a leadership base from which to test and hone his values. yet she herself was a free spirit. Experiences came into play through sensitive periods and readiness. schooling. What follows shows how Obama’s unusual life collage enables his brain to work precisely as it was intended to. His ancestry and exposures are remarkably atypical as each significant influence presented a conundrum.
Multidominance—We have the ability to develop strengths in both left. and analysis.30 Obama is adept at left-brain logic.29 Obama’s is a perspective of unity and commonality. A network of ﬁbers connects one hemisphere to the other. is reﬂective. He is very much attuned to the realities of the present. careful scrutiny. particular to leadership Obama-style? For simplicity. realistic. innovator. expression. discrete parts. It is concerned with facts. and practical. with creativity. Hemispheres of our mind—The brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left and the right. 4. with change. It is where our verbal and analytical abilities come from. or. the connection of each of these ten points to how our exemplar came to be. the brain’s tie-ins to leadership. It controls intuitive and emotional thought. quantitative. The right hemisphere is imaginative.34 Right Brain/Left Brain President Leadership and the Brain There is much to understanding the human brain. Left brain —The left hemisphere or left brain is our grounded tactician.31 Obama leads from right-brain vision. from a transformational perspective and from interpersonal connections. . our behavior is the result of a complex interplay among those constructs. 5. and thinks of the world as it could be. and visionary. The right brain is concerned with future possibilities.and left-brain interplay — through diversity in experiences and actions. Right brain —The right hemisphere or right brain is our strategist. Multidominance grows out of continuous exposure to right. order. to become multidominant. The following executive summary relays that knowledge: what leaders need to know about how our brain functions. full brain engagement comes through a cross-pollination of right. TEN-POINT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. Our brain’s structure and function stresses interrelationships.32 The diversity in Obama. and. more to the point. Each brain hemisphere controls specialized preferences in thinking and behaving.28 Obama’s life was one of interrelationships. It helps us see things as they are. The left brain controls sequential and linear thought. verbal expression. and closure. He is open to disparate viewpoints and seeks ultimately to leverage diversity by bringing camps together to fully integrate thoughts. logical. nonverbal. 2. able to plan.and right-brain characteristics. each with areas of primary responsibility. allowing for an interplay between both sides of the brain. Interrelationships—While our brain is organized into speciﬁc structures. and execute in the moment. The left brain reasons from part to whole and communicates in names and labels. While certain preferences are rooted in one hemisphere or the other. 3. and with our interpersonal connections. and holistic. the information on the brain is broken down into ten basic facts. but what do we need to know about how the brain functions and develops that is specific to leadership. It reasons from whole to parts. reason. most importantly. It is ordered.and left-brain perspectives rather than through the cultivation of polarized camps.
we increase its own processing options. Novel learning —An alter-brain experience is referred to as novel learning. 7. exposure to newness and diversity. experiences. Based on the ten-point list of what leaders need to know about the brain. thereby making us more able to deal with change. An alterbrain behavior or experience is one that stretches your brain’s existing reach. 9. trying a new way of responding. the degree to which empathy informs our resulting communications and actions is what others are relating to. Introspection and reﬂection can enable us to stay grounded during emotionally triggering life events and can help us turn a critical moment from a potential threat to a development opportunity. Stepping out of your comfort zone — An alter-brain behavior. Additionally.33 Obama has been engaged in a continuous alter-brain workout throughout the course of his life. His acumen with the work required of him in community organizing was the ﬁrst true demonstration of his socio-emotional adeptness. an alter-brain behavior is deﬁned as a style shift resulting in a new action that. encourages the brain’s natural synergistic process.37 Obama’s heritage and upbringing fostered wellhoned empathy that reinforces his social/emotional success. since we are designed to be social creatures.36 Obama’s reﬂective nature affords him a grounded. Conversely. Alter-brain behaviors — Leaders can develop their multidominance by engaging in alter-brain (diverse) behaviors and experiences. the many changes Obama encountered further propelled exposure to novelty in a most accelerated fashion. when accessed. can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach. 10. 8. Social/emotional brain—Recent ﬁndings about our social/emotional brain suggest just how pivotal our interactions are to a leader’s success. It is not enough to have good intent or to think you know what is best for those around you. Reﬂection and self-control —Stress and high-intensity moments can curtail our natural ability to extend beyond our preferences while also causing overreactions in the moment. 35 6.34 Novel learning was propelled by Obama’s mother’s intellectual wonder. Novel learning stimulates the brain to develop greater overall potentials.35 Obama’s life continuously forced him to stretch himself beyond his comfort zone.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership hardwired and gained through distinct inﬂuences. pushes us beyond our habitual ways of doing things and as such is equally brain enhancing. We also begin to recognize how his . She engendered in her son a passion for learning and a sense of marvel in the nuances of life. we see potentials in Obama’s style and approach. More speciﬁcally. and moments. It has been suggested that when we use our brains to do new and different things. stable presence in the face of turmoil. lends to his extraordinary multidominant facilities. our brain being locked in habitual patterns makes it harder for the brain to embrace novelty. sometimes encouraged by those around him and often out of sheer necessity. Speciﬁcally. His rise to the very top of the leadership hill further reinforces how socio-emotionally adept he is. Novel learning. You must demonstrate your understanding through both words and actions to excel in our very social world.
that is. beliefs. are not simply two factions connected by fibers enabling them to share. and social facility. Delicately timed events and solid supports reinforced his brain’s enhancements. each side of the brain has commonality —each contains facets of the other’s. for example. and marrying that to the ten-point summary of the brain. So was true of his grandparents. on Obama’s five key influences. Note the following excerpt from his February 24.and right-brain preferences to develop more fully and in consort. to work in a collaborative manner. As different as they were from each other in so many ways. When Obama faces conflict he is quick to call attention to common ground. no doubt. the left and right hemisphere.36 Right Brain/Left Brain President developmental conundrum actually poised him for leadership success. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the com- . changing it to perfect form. Obama is a leader who is both grounded in the present and able to see the path forward. and to strengthen its own distinctions through collaboration. his stepfather. we could say that what we see in Obama is a rare convergence of several distinct factions that received its potency because they came together all at once. each had certain common qualities—their intellect. We can see evidence of Obama’s aligned brain functioning in his approach to conflict. When reading over the information on nature and nurture. The result is full-force leadership. intuitive thinking in someone driven more by logic. I know that. each shared certain values. if we came to know them further. There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. reflective inner strength. The president was outlining his initial plans and ended with an appeal to work together: Look. I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far. The human brain is structured to be synergistic. and traits with others in Obama’s immediate circle. address to Congress. 2009.38 Obama’s perfect leadership form comes from the constant synergies exerting force on his development along with the commonality contained within them. From a definitive set of strong. The brain can do this because the two sides of the brain. you begin to see that Obama’s particular chance nature/nurture combination lent itself to the brain’s optimal development. not to exacerbate (as is the case in a perfect storm) but rather to embellish (leaving us a perfect form). his was a brain in constant expansion. for example. A Leadership-Perfect Form If we put a positive spin on the popularized phrase perfect storm. not only does the non-intuit become more intuitive. The result was a blend of driven resolve. allowing left. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. Rather. and their passion for human rights. members of his African ancestry. The address centered on the global economic crisis. varied passed-on traits to a myriad of life encounters. and. but other mental abilities improve as well. When we encourage the development of a weaker area. As different as his parents were.
Leaders under stress tend to constrict their posture. Was his myopic stance the work of an overplayed left brain? .”39 The president concluded his address stating that common ground would be the ultimate driver for this group in reaching its goal. certain gaps can be noted. “something worthy to be remembered. His is a fully integrated right. Possibly his Achilles heel was that in the face of pervasive criticisms he became more steadfast in his beliefs. the point was made at the book’s outset that you will instead find that leaders get caught up in their preferences.and left-brain behavioral spectrum. then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed. Clinton was in many ways a brilliant leader. Talented leaders certainly possess both right. and transformational. what truly sets Obama apart is his apparent complete compliment of multidominant behaviors as applied directly to the way he leads.and left-brain leadership abilities but are seldom adept across the full right. however. When under stress this becomes even more apparent. concerned with facts and scrutiny. Obama’s approach to conflict also involves inviting differing opinions. the threat of impeachment. charismatic. He was intuitive and holistic and thought of the world as it could be. possessing exceptional rightbrain strong suits.The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 37 ing months. former president George W.to left-brain thinking or vice versa with the ease that Obama does. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground. though.and left-brain abilities. Former president William Jefferson Clinton could be described as extraordinarily visionary. While high-level leaders can be adept at certain right. His brain and his outlook support a position of shared capability.”40 Obama clearly has a natural ease with discourse. in the words that are carved into this very chamber. if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity. and where we return after those debates are done. His most unusual life brain workout enables him to do what others seemingly don’t. especially when his presidency faced its ultimate crisis. Clinton drew more from his right-brain mystique.and left-brain approach. He was verbal and analytical. his brain well able to process disparate thoughts and to look for ways to collaborate and reconcile. Bush could be characterized as left-brain driven. a leader is less likely to shift style from right. More to the point. He is often heard saying that he welcomes opposing views and that “we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Under stress is precisely when Obama seems to expand his. He tended to reason from part to whole and to communicate through labels. He also had distinct left-brain talents. He was more entrenched in the moment. Would added left-brain grounding have been more to his benefit? In contrast to former president Clinton’s right-brain orientation. if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit. And if we do — if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis. He was a strategist and an innovator. He was determined. Ultimately.
Everything a high-profile leader does and says can be easily broadcast for the world to see. on the other hand. on the other hand. Another case in point could be seen in Senator John McCain’s tactics during the 2008 presidential campaign. engendering greater respect for who he was. Obama. Your appeal and your ability to connect takes place on a twenty-four/seven world stage. Decisions and actions are therefore scrutinized minute by minute. a world that is more demanding. In effect. McCain’s approach. Leaders must possess further flexibility to draw from. chose a counterbalance in Joe Biden. In essence they are acting from a set of identified strengths to excess (too much of a good thing ). Leaders must operate with greater bandwidth in our high-tech/high-speed fishbowl of an existence. the ability to shift style not as an exception but as a rule. The race continued while concurrently. to move forth and back from right. intensifying his promise to fight for every American. D. was nonetheless unchanged in breadth. There are countless ways to be judged at any given moment. When the election intensified he stepped up references to a maverick approach. The public became unnerved. we live in a different world.and left-brain preferences with ease and agility. Sarah Palin. Leaders in particular will dig in rather than engage their brain power more fluidly. In today’s world challenges are intensifying in complexity. more interconnected. His campaign cornerstone was his “maverick” style. . He was seen as calm in the face of crisis and willing to step up during difficult times. if you will. From that vantage point he vowed to fix a broken Washington. Obama appeared more diverse in ability. Alter-brain style shifts and additional traits poised him for broader appeal. McCain continued to lead from his preference. and solutions specific to new demands were added to his platform. and operating with faster and faster cycle times. rather than drawing upon a broader sphere of full-brain leadership attributes. who was touted as a fellow maverick. maverick style. impending economic catastrophe was upon us. In times of stress we are all inclined to act out of habit.38 Right Brain/Left Brain President A risk run by many if not most high-level leaders is to allow certain preferences to become their cornerstones. Obama. Leaders today are also more exposed. He selected a running mate. while continuing the engaging style that was his hallmark. Acting solely from one’s preferences will leave a leader coming up short. Obama positioned himself to be seen as a leader able to make needed accommodations in response to unusual circumstances. Greater sensitivities apply with respect to communications and cultural contexts.C. a new-age journalism. A resolve was heard in his voice. added grounding and formidability. Obama’s extended stable and serious overtones afforded the opportunity for voters to experience him beyond charismatic. though intensified. What we have gained from the internet in convenience and opportunity has boomeranged back at leaders who must be ready to react.
and traits as backdrop for the complete review of our exemplar. That is Obama’s leadership-perfect form. behavioral. The remaining chapters will present a model for right brain/left brain leadership. We move next to the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. behaviors. His unusual leadership ability is a blend of expansive social. Following the review of behaviors and traits as they relate to President Obama. its format. demonstrating his abilities within each of its ten guiding behaviors. His style represents a working model for the dynamic interplay today’s leaders should aspire in order to meet the challenges of our time. but in his fundamental leadership operating style. .The Nature/Nurture of Leadership 39 Obama comes to his position with diversity not simply by virtue of his name and race. More importantly. and intellectual reach. the fluidity with which Obama transitions between rightand left-brain abilities will be highlighted. the book will give specific steps for how you too can become more Obama-like in your leadership approaches. He is primed to address a multitude of issues from the intricate to the nefarious and to do so in our new-age interactive context. To lead the United States of America at precisely this moment in its history requires full-blown right. President Obama’s leadership style will be examined relative to this right brain/left brain model. identifying ten guiding behaviors along with specific corresponding traits.and left-brain leadership skill sets like we see in Obama.
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and Left-Brain Potentials It ’s not just enough to change the players. The what and how should ideally work in tandem. the leadership game has changed and leaders must change with it. four of left-brain ability.1 shows the model’s guiding behaviors sorted by right and left abilities along with the two auxiliary behaviors. and two additional support behaviors.2 A model that focuses on a leader’s behaviors forces consideration beyond what a leader is doing—goals and objectives—to how a leader enacts such targets. four of right-brain ability. —Barack Obama1 A Leadership Model Aptly put in the preceding Obama quote. The Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model was first proposed in my book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and is explained in its entirety in that text. We ’ve gotta change the game.Chapter 3 Right. You must be able to routinely extend from that foundation with diversity in both mindset and action. . In reality the most effective leaders consider behavior as integral to success. This chapter will review the model’s highlights and set the stage for a detailed review of President Obama’s right brain/left brain leadership. with equal consideration given to both. Instead you must see your inclinations as a foundation to build upon. Figure 3. Typically the behavioral side of leadership is seen as a personal style separate from what one sets out to accomplish. such proclivities can no longer reflect your entire playbook.and left-brain propensities. A model to help frame such a full-spectrum leadership approach is one that draws from right. the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model identifies ten guiding leadership behaviors. While it is important to lead based on your particular style. Translated into the language of leadership.
Each behavior is defined as follows: Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. Resilient and savvy are auxiliary behaviors. to be the steward and the gauge Assertive: To be upfront. and individuals relative to values.and left-brain enhancing. behaviors are methodical. direct. well-being. innovative. and stability. transformational. teams. and to recognize others. to validate. to be systematic and eﬀectual in your approach to initiatives Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context Grounded: To act with integrity. and staying power. behaviors are strategic. and to help them take on responsibility Methodical: To plan well. and determined to get the desired results .1 Guiding Behaviors Sorted by Right. thoughts. supporting your leadership ability by tending to you personally. to involve. When leading from the left. They are right. and engaging. Resilient contributes to your health. consistency. Savvy speaks to your image and to your ability to negotiate the ever-socrucial cultural landscape that you work from. grounded. and assertive. and actions Engaging: To understand and work well with others. expressive. to have the long-range view Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint Transformational: To drive change in cultures.and Left-Brain Ability When leading from the right brain.42 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 3.
Right Brain / Left Brain: Counterintuitive As you begin to familiarize yourself with the model and how it can help direct you to broader impact. the orientation of the model seem counterintuitive—that’s intentional. To Obama’s credit. As the title reflects. While he tended to the immediate he framed his actions from a right-brain transformational perspective. The right brain in essence focuses on the future. By turning his attention to the long term he envisioned what it would look like for us to be safe and. to thrive. While we would orient from the left.Right. he did so. The need during a crisis is to deal with that which is most pressing. He acted in the moment to ensure that the immediate crisis was well addressed.and Left-Brain Potentials 43 Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. more importantly. if any behaviors reflect your hard-core preferences? Do you tend to lead more from the left or the right. where are your typical behavioral strengths? Which. When it comes to Obama’s leadership he tends to initiate from the right—the brain right. Obama’s leftist label reflects his political party affiliation. and mindset—your internal fortitude Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. but to think through what it would take to ensure our ultimate financial solvency—how to not let this happen again. first consider the model’s title. however. the model is built around our right. But why right brain/left brain leadership and not the other way around? Surely President Obama himself would prefer a model that leads from the left! Politics aside. drawing on our brain’s dualistic and synergistic nature. Effective leadership begins on the right-brain side of the thinking and acting equation. He took office during the most tumultuous of economic times. . From a leadership perspective. stamina. while the left brain hones in on present realities. for example. that is. He projected years ahead to how the nation would have to be structured and function across a broad set of measures to truly secure our interests. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are aﬃliated with—your external inﬂuence Looking at the ten guiding leadership behaviors. leaders need to first look forward to the desired state in order to then tend effectively to the day-to-day. or are you more multidominant? Thinking back to the last difficult leadership situation you had to address. We see this right-brain orientation in Obama as he began his presidency. say. we need to lead from the right.and left-brain abilities. in reading. would any of the behaviors that are not part of your usual way of functioning have helped you achieve a better result? These are the questions to consider as we continue our exploration. he also applied right-brain thinking to examine not merely how to arrest the present crisis.
That is the future I know we can have. innovations. 2009. His right-brain long-range view informed his immediate crisis response. I know that some have accused us of taking on too much at once. by sound investments that will spread opportunity at home and allow this nation to lead the world in the technologies. In the remainder of his address he spelled out how the nation came to its present catastrophe and how precisely his strategy would take the nation where it needed to be. address at Georgetown University as Obama reflected on the first several months of his administration’s work: It has now been twelve weeks since my administration began. and be honest about the pitfalls that may lay ahead. why we’ve done it. productive workers. He detailed three key responses to address the then current economic crisis along with five strategic pillars for longrange prosperity. Others believe we haven’t done enough. we have responded to an extraordinary set of economic challenges with extraordinary action—action that has been unprecedented in both its scale and its speed. I want every American to know that each action we take and each policy we pursue is driven by a larger vision of America’s future—a future where sustained economic growth creates good jobs and rising incomes. I want to talk about what we’ve done. Consider the following passage from his April 14. That is the America I see. The president concluded his address with the following statements: This brings up one final point I’d like to make today. . overarching strategy that will move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.3 The president’s long-range view. reckless speculation. He worked from an accurate perception of the present as it related to the ultimate desired state. a future where prosperity is fueled not by excessive debt. So today. And most of all.44 Right Brain/Left Brain President Though he came under criticism from some for being too farsighted during trying times. I’ve talked a lot about the fundamental weakness in our economy that led us to this day of reckoning. But we also arrived here because of a fundamental weakness in our political system. and fleeing profit. And I think even our critics would agree that at the very least. his right-brain thinking. and what we have left to do. I want to update you on the progress we’ve made. was informing his here-and-now (left-brain) actions. we’ve been busy. And many Americans are simply wondering how all of our different programs and policies fit together in a single. In just under three months. and discoveries that will shape the 21st century. he showed clear multidominant leadership ability by shifting in an integrated fashion between right-brain future prospects and left-brain present realities. I want to step back for a moment and explain our strategy as clearly as I can. but is instead built by skilled.
The right-brain behaviors are for a leader. Surely he demonstrated the ability to be strategic. Right-brain guiding leadership behaviors are facilitators of a leader’s desired state. Woven into his strategies were the methodical specifics of his plans—a three-pronged immediate response tied to five long-term strategies. The stakes are too high. He demonstrated depth and breadth of ability across the brain-behavior spectrum. The acronym for the right-brain behaviors is SITE (Strategic. This one excerpt is consistent with the demeanor and tenor Obama showed throughout the early stages of his presidency. He was grounded. and transparency. noting possible pitfalls or problems to come. His plans reflected innovation. This can’t be one of those times. The manner in which he constructed his address was transformational as he sought to drive change in values. instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance. and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle. It’s more than most congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. The left-brain behavior expressive was reflected in the clarity and detail with which he spoke. confronting the flawed mindsets that his administration is committed to eliminating. A Leader’s Line of SITE Looking more closely at the ten guiding leadership behaviors we begin with the right-brain behaviors. His right-brain behaviors are well in motion. I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now. From those possibilities opportunities for change are identified and buy-in is sought. He began his address from that perspective. We also saw decided left-brain shifts. reaching out directly to his audience. They were fresh and progressive. The challenges are too great. too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. to take the long-range view. and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. stability. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves.Right. . His overall tone was engaging. When a crisis hits. looking out to possibilities.4 Consider in this brief address the numerous right.and Left-Brain Potentials 45 For too long.and left-brain leadership behaviors exhibited by the president. thoughts. and actions. leading from the right. acting with consistency. he was assertive. with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on. Lastly. to the men and women who sent us here.
Think. to have the long-range view.5 Obama has a keen ability to project ahead.46 Right Brain/Left Brain President Innovative. Line of SITE behaviors are defined again below. Represented by the icon of a binocular. He can extend beyond what has occurred to what we should aspire toward. and missed prospects. Line of SITE behaviors enable the leader the view of looking out over the horizon to see the potentials as well as eminent threats. For now. He verses himself in a broad historic context and grounds himself in present truths. Ideally. Chapter 4 will further and precisely detail Obama’s Line of SITE abilities. As such he is well able to then formulate transformation perspectives—how to effect needed change. using both past successes and failures to inform his thinking. accomplishments. As you examine overall behaviors and more specific component traits you can begin to get an appreciation for the full scope of each behavior’s potential impact. he possesses the interpersonal ability to engage. of right-brain behaviors as a leader’s Line of SITE. Strategic behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole Innovative: To have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. then. Ten traits are provided for each of the leadership behaviors to show a complete range of qualities possible for a given behavior. Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. and Engaging). to past presidents’ reigns. Innovative behavioral traits are: • Pioneering—forging new ground • Risk-taking—taking a chance . he himself possesses the intuition to take the final strategic leap. Through mastery of behavioral nuances the leader can attain depth competence. this time with the corresponding traits that detail each leadership behavior’s nuances. for example. Transformational. He solicits differing and expert opinions. Obama’s scholarly penchants takes him to the study of relevant knowledge. but still in all. you will also come to see the complexities of leveraging a particular leadership behavior. They allow a leader to imagine a vision for the future. Finally. positions.
monitoring. to validate. Left-brain leadership . to involve. and to recognize others and to help them take on responsibility. and driving the work in progress. the near term.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • • • • • Playful—fun-loving Creative –able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty-seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual 47 Transformational: To drive change in cultures. thoughts. the left-brain skill sets assume the view of looking over your world.Right. You are communicating about the work and providing appropriate updates and specifics. Engaging behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further. in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment-driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Engaging: To understand and work well with others. and actions. While looking over your charge you are concerned with present realities. When you are looking over you are organizing. teams. Transformational behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity-allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity-conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action6 The MEGA Mind Represented by the icon of a magnifying glass. and individuals relative to values.
The acronym for these behaviors is MEGA (Methodical. The MEGA Mind behaviors and corresponding traits are shown in their entirety as follows: Methodical: To plan well. Left-brain skill sets help you to stabilize situations and reach ascribed goals. Chapter 5 will further and precisely detail Obama’s left-brain MEGA Mind. Along with his rightbrain strong suits Obama has specific left-brain leadership abilities as well. He is able to move from vision to plan. Expressive behavioral traits are: Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • • • • • • • . Left-brain behaviors are your MEGA Mind. Obama’s resolve was tested a number of times early in his presidency.48 Right Brain/Left Brain President targets the sheer volume of a leader’s day-to-day tactical demands. Expressive. and Assertive). Left-brain leadership is about your in-the-moment planning. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context. He is analytical and able to work at the detail level. especially at this moment in time when public trust had been severely eroded. Grounded. His ability to act from stability and integrity are acknowledged pluses. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives. It is about what you say and how you say it. and he seemed to pass these first-round confrontations. Methodical behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Eﬀective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. His communication abilities are a trademark.
have an inward focus. while acting with greater savvy enables you to understand which style shifts are required in any given situation. Obama’s generally calm and encouraging demeanor. and attention to a greater good poise him well for certain resilient strong suits. The Plus Factors.Right. direct. Assertive behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and deﬁnite in your goals Conﬁdent—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and diﬃculties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conﬂict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions7 The Plus Factors The final two guiding leadership behaviors are called the Plus Factors. His swift ascent to the very top of the political ladder along with his historic . to be the steward and the gauge. Grounded behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed –able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established —having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on Assertive: To be upfront.and Left-Brain Potentials • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 49 Grounded: To act with integrity. and stability. and determined to get the desired results. When properly leveraged. They assume the view of looking in at one’s own fortitude and influence as represented by the icon of a mirror. his acceptance of differences. consistency. the Plus Factors are right-and left-brain enhancing. As you become more resilient you are more able to act from a broader range of leadership styles. resilient and savvy.
or involvements Promotive—eﬀectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition Assimilating—able to integrate into groups. There you see four key processes representing the what of leading as follows: . views. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence. block out distractions.2. accountable to a greater good • Physically ﬁt—practicing sound lifestyle habits.50 Right Brain/Left Brain President success speaks to his savvy. teams. aware of and managing your health • Fulﬁlled—feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed—able to decompress from stress • Environmental—making nature a part of your personal and professional development Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. stamina. and think freely • Tolerant—accepting of diﬀerences • Flexible—able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual—seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense. Resilient behavioral traits are: • Positive—having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound—able to cope with stress and diﬃculties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions. Savvy behavioral traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Astute—perceptive concerning people and circumstances Diplomatic—using tact in your sensitive interactions Timely—aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue Subtle—able to work indirectly to inﬂuence people and situations Culturally oriented—grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you inﬂuence those within that culture Networking—developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneﬁcial Coalition-building—bringing together those who share your causes. The Plus Factors along with their corresponding traits are described as follows: Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning. Obama’s Plus Factor abilities will be examined fully in Chapter 6 of this book. or cultures Visible—being regularly seen8 Model in Context The full model is displayed in Figure 3. and mindset—your internal fortitude.
Obama assumed office during a global economic crisis that required aggressive and immediate attention along with multilevel collaboration at home and abroad. the ten guiding leadership behaviors sorted by positioning: looking out.to left-brain actions or vice versa to achieve maximum leadership impact. doing enough to keep the situation from worsening while acting with enough impact to begin to reverse looming threats.and Left-Brain Potentials • • • • Visioning—where you are headed Operationalizing—your plan Implementing—getting the desired results Declaring—reﬂecting on outcomes 51 These key processes reflect the context of the leader’s work. and looking in.Right.2 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model (Complete) . While the key processes represent the what of leadership. From the model you can now see. His context was one of extreme urgency and unprecedented potential fallout. looking over. Such a circumstance required rapid incremental cycling through the key processes. along with the four key processes. the guiding behaviors point us to the how.to left-brain abilities illustrate some of the limitless possibilities for shifting style from right. Dotted lines from right. Figure 3.
I’ve consulted with our public health officials extensively. first of all. and determined). at his 100th-day press conference Obama was asked. but not panic. in some cases an hour—hour-to-hour basis. One could see. when accessed. can give either greater depth to a preferred style or complementary breadth to your overall approach. When you shift style to access one of the model’s behaviors that is outside your usual mode of operating or seek to access traits not before part of your leadership repertoire. can you talk about whether you think it’s time to close the border with Mexico. direct. Dynamic interplays are motivational. meet more unconventional challenges. An alter-brain behavior is a style shift resulting in a new action that. . and assertive (to be upfront. when a leader is based in his preferred style and able to access alternative means of impact. yin and yang behavioral reach. Obama shifts his style often and with ease to be methodical (to detail a plan). At this point they have not recommended a border closing. Obama’s preferences in the behaviors strategic. He can influence a wider audience. 2009.” Notice the range of behaviors demonstrated in his response. on a day-to-day basis. and whether—under what conditions you might consider quarantining. He is a visionary. able to drive change and to draw others in. The breadth of his leadership is seen as he extends from his primary inclinations to act from a second tier of alterbrain behaviors. when that might be appropriate. From their perspective. an enhancement occurs. systematically. who accesses certain engaging traits as well can ultimately expect more from those she is holding accountable since she is now involving and recognizing them as well. and as a result achieve groundbreaking results.52 Right Brain/Left Brain President Dynamic Interplays Referred to as a dynamic interplay. and what public health officials have to say—will determine in large part what happens. A dynamic interplay is a well-executed balancing act that generates healthy tension for others to respond to. expressive. Well. this is a cause for deep concern. A typically assertive leader. “With the flu outbreak spreading and worsening. grounded (to act with stability). and engaging. for example.9 Think of alter-brain behaviors as making you more interesting to work with and as positively provocative of those around you. it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out. an adept communicator. On April 29. Obama’s easy access between first. because we already have cases here in the United States. Others feel energized by a leader with diverse.and second-tier behaviors can be seen in his initial handling of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak. transformational. for example. based on science. Individual contributors find encouragement and added opportunities from varied orientations of a leader rather than leaders who are predictably monotonous in approach. A dynamic interplay is created when you shift your style from right brain to left or vice versa. as I said. And I think that we have to make sure that we recognize that how we respond—intelligently. psychologically interesting to those around you. you are accessing what is defined in the model as an alter-brain behavior.
stay home. I know it sounds trivial. with the Bush administration. plans. for example. should a worst-case scenario play out. in the event that they ’re needed. we don’t yet know how it will respond to that. that everybody responds appropriately when cases do come up. He used clear expressive analogies and straightforward statements. cover your mouth when you cough. Now that ’s why I asked for an additional $1. and individual families start taking very sensible precautions that—that can make a huge difference. is to make sure that we are maintaining great vigilance. Obama’s decisions and proactive measures reflect strategic prudence. so that they ’re in place. that we are able track them effectively. don’t get on an airplane.Right.and Left-Brain Potentials 53 We have ramped up screening efforts. they are all on the phone. don’t get on a— any system of public transportation where you’re confined and you could potentially spread the virus. He showed assertive determination. The key now. to coordinate and make sure that there’s timely reporting. we’ve got 50 million courses of antiviral drugs. keep them out of school. so that we can prepare in the eventuality that we have to do more than we’re doing currently. essentially take out some additional insurance. with the World Health Organization. but it makes a huge difference.5 billion so that we can make sure that everything is in place. Secretary Napolitano at Department of Homeland Security. He spoke to methodical details. For example. as well as made sure that additional supplies are there on the border. And I think the Bush administration did a good job of creating the infrastructure so that we can respond. If your child is sick. and precautions. that we’re allocating resources. If you are feeling certain flu symptoms. So wash your hands when you shake hands. We’re coordinating closely with state and local officials. to make sure that we had beefed up our infrastructure and our stockpiles of antiviral drugs. on a daily basis.10 In his opening first few statements. just understanding that because this is a new strain. His acknowledgments of those whose previous efforts advanced our present-day cause along with his requests to citizens to take . newly installed Secretary Sebelius of Health and Human Services. So the government is going to be doing everything that we can. Obama was grounded—noting a serious but not catastrophic circumstance and providing assurances of the vigilance with which the issue was being addressed. But understand that because this is a new strain. I was part of a group of legislators who worked. our acting CDC director. I think. If you are sick. I do want to compliment Democrats and Republicans who worked diligently back in 2005 when the bird flu came up. If this was a strain that we were familiar with. we have to be cautious. then we might have to—then I think we wouldn’t see the kind of alert levels that we’re seeing. But the most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks. that as new cases come up. So those are the steps that I think we need to take right now. like Tamiflu. So we have to take additional precautions. with all public-health officials across the states.
It needed to return to those principles. Certainly there were policy disagreements. The public’s overall yardstick on the president’s success. albeit enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Born from Culture Upon further examination of the Right Brain/Left Brain Model you see a pyramid at the center. Conversely. Responding to the tumultuous climate at the outset of his presidency. In Obama’s view the United States had strayed from its founding cultural principles. the Republican Party’s leadership was at that same time falling under pointed criticism. but in terms of his leadership persona. I don’t think that’s just my opinion. how they would continue to make an impact—was called into question. many seemed at ease with Obama. however. The party was viewed by many as mired in their defeat and polarized in position. Interesting to note was that there were relatively moderate criticisms of the president during his first 100 days. What I’ve said—and I will repeat—is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. The culture of their party—what they stood for. Times required greater breadth in perspective. I do believe that it is torture. and we as a nation were straying from ours. along with the ability to lead in the face of complex ambiguities. greater fluidity in thought and approach. They were being called upon to redefine their values and approaches. I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do—not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various de- . And that’s why I put an end to these practices. The Republicans’ entrenched stance was not boding well for them. seemed more focused on the multiple facets to his leadership ability than on agreement or disagreement with specific decisions. in spite of the array of issues. whether regarding the potential pandemic or any one of a number of equally paramount issues. criticism that seemed to center on Republicans’ continuing to act from an ingrained position. Obama was concerned about cultural matters in a different manner. Obama continuously drew upon a wide range of guiding leadership behaviors and did so with seamless integration. While the Republicans were being asked to reinvent the party’s culture. As he set his policies. A leader’s primal audience is the cultural perspective from which he leads.54 Right Brain/Left Brain President specific precautions reflect an engaging posture. that ’s the opinion of many who’ve examined the topic. Culture is tied to values. This pyramid reflects the various audiences a leader must attend to and influence. you could see intentions that were aimed directly at our cultural disconnects. Consider Obama’s response to a second question asked at his 100th-day press conference regarding the practice of torture. Controversies concerning the president were typically centered on proposed government spending and the level of government involvement in business.
but failing to align through an overarching cultural imperative is another. And—and—and the reason was that Churchill understood. and bodies. Organizational cultures are most effective when they emanate from a single and unified point. I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British. that corrodes what ’swhat’s best in a people. The culture of a nation is no different. Party differences are one thing. there must be alignment with originating cultural premises. Obama’s intent to place culture front and center is an attempt to reright the ship. “We don’t torture. during World War II. still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals. and over time.Right. Obama must also work with . because it will put us in a—in a position where we can still get information. even when we’re taking on an unscrupulous enemy. And Churchill said. it may be harder. and make us safer over the long term. you start taking shortcuts. In some cases. Leaders who tend to their audiences know full well that culture is primal to the work at hand. The president’s teams include all branches of government. It corrodes the character of a country. but because we could have gotten this information in other ways—in ways that were consistent with our values. from his own staff to Congress and federal and state government agencies. And—and so I strongly believe that the steps that we’ve taken to prevent these kind of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term. So this is a decision that I am very comfortable with. I think. offices. At the same time. But part of what makes us. While the United States is made up of numerous cultural factions. not just when it’s easy. even when it’s hard.” when the—the entire British—all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.and Left-Brain Potentials 55 tainees who were subjected to this treatment. The public saw the lack of cultural grounding and reacted. Teams and Individuals At the next level of the pyramid is the word teams. Self-serving perspectives in direct opposition to any lead culture undermine the fabric of its society. it takes away a critical recruitment tool that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians. It’s not surprising that public opinion of our Congress has steadily declined over the past several years. in ways that were consistent with who we are. when London was being bombed to smithereens.11 The president’s fundamental right-brain strategic intent and complementary left-brain assertive confrontation of the matter of torture is tied directly to the cultural realignment he is seeking. and I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are. had 200 or so detainees. And it makes us—it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks.
These qualities bode well for someone who has complex teams to lead. He was asked what had troubled him most in his first 100 days in office. And so the way we are constantly thinking about this issue of how to bring about the changes that the American people need is to— is to say. focus our attention for at least this year. That there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we’re in the middle of really big crises. you know. And that hasn’t happened as much as I would have liked. And so I can’t just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want—(laughter)—or— (chuckles)—or. I would like to think that everybody would say. Obama’s response to a third question asked at his 100th-day press conference speaks poignantly to his perspective on teams. Obama’s tie to his citizens comes across in a follow-up to the question about what troubled him. Congress falls in line. I’d say less troubled but. what you do is to make your best arguments. we may not see all the consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now.S. our kids will be able to look back and say that was when we started getting serious about clean energy. And so. you know. This metaphor has been used before. whether an individual is one of his own staff. that’s when health care started to become more efficient . or twenty years from now. Obama’s position with respect to individuals. one that fosters personal responsibility and accountability both of the leader and of the individuals a leader serves. Obama’s nature is fundamentally collaborative. citizens. The top level of the pyramid represents the individuals a leader impacts. if we can move this big battleship a few degrees in a different direction. but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life and there are a lot of different power centers. you know what. let’s take a timeout on some of the political games. or one of us sitting at home watching him on television. Humbled by the—humbled by the fact that the presidency is extraordinarily powerful. a foreign leader. sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow. you know. For Obama. individuals range from the array of people he interfaces with one-on-one along with the collective body of U. Here is his response. to learn from and reconcile discrepant views. and then we can start running for something next year. it’s not a speedboat. This is a refreshingly upfront perspective. but this—the ship of state is an ocean liner.12 Leaders like Obama who are committed stewards are inclined to work through their teams. but ten years from now. Here is his reply.C. From his response we see that there is more work to be done engaging Team D. The same reporter asked him what humbled him.56 Right Brain/Left Brain President teams of international leaders as he did at the 2009 G-20 Economic Summit. you know. is to be clear about what we can expect from him and equally clear about what he expects from us. He is able to work with diverse groups. turn on a switch and suddenly. listen hard to what other people have to say and coax folks in the right direction.
And—and so—I—I have a much longer time horizon than I think you do when you’re a candidate or if you’re listening.Right. I think. I think. Obama is clearly reaching out and connected to the individuals he leads in a more direct manner than others before him. last. Through this chapter’s cursory explanation of the model’s components and premises we see that Obama is overall on target in his leadership approach. Chapter four4 will examine in greater depth Obama’s Line of SITE leadership—which traits he employs to be strategic. And I’m—I ’m humbled.and Left-Brain Potentials 57 and affordable. and engaging. by the American people who have shown extraordinary patience and. Turning specifically to Obama’s right-brain inclinations. He places cultural matters front and center. Obama well tends to the model’s cascading audiences. to the media reportage on a day-to-day basis. transformational. works to build productive teams. .13 Whether he is asking for our patience with the problems the nation is facing or asking us to cover our mouths when we cough to prevent the spread of the flu. that’s when we became serious about raising our standards in education. and ultimately attempts to engage individuals. innovative. a recognition that we’re not going to solve all these problems overnight.
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They are perceptive and instinctive. From that sagacity comes comprehensive understanding and ultimately sound judgments about both the current and desired state. still believe in an America where anything’s possible—they just don’t think their leaders do. When a leader’s thought process is born of possibilities. what we should aspire toward. and Steve Jobs drove the creation of technologies that have forever altered the way we think and live. aware of their surroundings. —Barack Obama1 A leader with a well developed Line of SITE is inclined to think in terms of possibilities. Such a leader can take us to an expanded future state. He can see the way forward. is the right brain at work. Sir Isaac Newton gave us fundamental bases in mathematics. a broad net of potential is cast. Bill Gates. Adept strategic thinkers also rely on a sixth sense to know the realities of the present. More recently. He can picture the possibilities.Chapter 4 Obama: Leading from the Right? Strategic Intent Americans . What other visionaries stand out in your mind? Obama’s right-brain Line of SITE is well developed. a sign of the times as referenced by Obama. He notes that the people themselves had not given . In the quote at the outset of this chapter. beginning with his honed strategic perspective. innovators like Michael Dell. . There was Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the new world. To be driven by what could be. They are not likely to misread the tea leaves or to underestimate obstacles and threats. Such a leader works to chart his course in the most forward-thinking of directions. we see an important insight. Think of the impetus such great strategic moments and minds have afforded us. Gandhi reframed human rights reform with the power of peaceful protest. and light. . motion. one much better than we had before. Obama has keen vision and foresight.
This is the kind of leader you want in these most challenging times. As we move through this section on strategic leadership you will come to see how the ten traits of this critical initiating leadership behavior are a natural part of Obama’s persona. playing them for all they are worth. The super-harged political machines are preying on those insecurities. He will thoughtfully examine the circumstances around him. he needed to reinstill faith in government. and have a long-range view. and tend to the plethora of pressing policy matters. according to Obama. those they empowered to represent them were. One such sign of the time is health care. The people. Obama is well rooted in that which is strategic. about Obama’s strategic compass is that it will guide him aptly. she must draw from the following strategic leadership traits: • • • • • • Intuitive—knowing things instinctively Thoughtful—giving careful consideration Insightful—seeing clearly into the nature of complex subject matter Anticipatory—aware of the eminent Shrewd—clever and preemptive Big-picture-oriented—taking extended aspects of a situation into account .60 Right Brain/Left Brain President up. It is interesting to be writing about this president’s leadership ability as he sets out on his leadership journey. deliberate over impacts. Obama should not be expected to ram things past the opposition. work to settle the present. he will stay the course. He would be more inclined to work progressively. and at such a complicated and troubled time in our nation’s history. To be strategic a leader must think in a proactive rather than reactive manner. there are concerns that the Obama administration is taking on too much. In fact. He will instead continue to push on after his vision. though. People are becoming unnerved. toward the greater possibilities. From that insight Obama recognized that while working toward next steps he must. be visionary. If he was to move the country from where it was toward change. What we are uncovering. He will keep his eye on the present as he considers the future and will right the ship as he goes. carefully. He is not working in laundry list fashion. He will not likely sway in reactive fashion. but through a matrix that takes time. in parallel path. even in the face of an unnerved public. strategy and patience. He leverages his strategic strong suits to accurately know the present and to progressively aspire toward an advanced state. a matter that has brought heated debates to the forefront. were not standing in the way of the future. Obama’s strategic mindset was initially shaped by this foundational imperative. Each day it seems different circumstances are unfolding and Obama is being tested. Specifically. for our nation’s leaders to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. he will need time to work these interrelated urgencies in consort. rebuild faith in government. To accomplish what he seems to be setting out after. to simultaneously realign our culture. and decide accordingly. As some criticize him for taking on too much and others for not moving fast enough. and systematically.
government didn’t supplant private enterprise. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. and the time to take charge of our future is here. an American on the moon. address to Congress: We have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity. giving careful consideration to both how the country came to its current crisis and how our past approaches took us beyond our challenges to next levels of success. He is holistic and conceptual. 2009. In the midst of civil war. the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle class in history. this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.2 In this excerpt we see several strategic traits in Obama. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive. That is why. He is insightful. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. even as it cuts back on programs we don’t need. able to see clearly into the nature of complex subject matter. and education. but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world. or the next election. And all the while. to address the . From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy. it catalyzed private enterprise. We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril. He is thoughtful. and claimed opportunity from ordeal. that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways. For history tells a different story. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. landing on a strategy that is multipronged.Obama • • • • Global—seeking input that generates a worldwide perspective and application Holistic—taking all aspects of a situation into account Theoretical—able to speculate Conceptual—able to form parts into a whole 61 Going back to the very start of Obama’s presidency. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation. In each case. the next quarter. we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. health care. where we failed to look beyond the next payment. We can’t afford to ignore our long-term challenges. Now we must be that nation again. Now is the time to act boldly and wisely—to not only revive this economy. consider the following statement the new president made in his February 24. In the wake of war and depression. Well that day of reckoning has arrived.
I did not come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation—I’m here to solve them. And that’s a future I don’t accept—not for my children. I’m here to start building an economy and a prosperity that lasts. Now. and it hurts us all in the end. on bad credit and inflated home prices and over-leveraged banks. and not for yours. And we must not use the need to confront them as an excuse to keep ignoring the long-term threats to our prosperity: the cost of our health care and our oil addiction. or because I’m a glutton for punishment. Rather than moving through the current economic crisis with a quick-fix or singular solution. our education deficit and our fiscal deficit. we cannot go back to endless cycles of bubble and bust. and viable contributions of our young people. I’m not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it. The second leg seeks to reform an inefficient and financially burdensome health-care system while ensuring inclusion of all citizens. are only part of what threatens our economy. One leg represents intent to decrease our dependence on foreign oil while also tending more directly to our environmental problems. Obama addresses members of the Business Roundtable on March 12. The truth is that these problems in the financial market. We cannot wait to build this foundation. on businesses that are free to invest in the next big idea or breakthrough discovery. The final leg—education—aims to build and sustain our intellectual might while securing the growth. health care. independence. at interrelated parts that must come together uniformly to secure future solvency. Obama communicates a direction that takes multiple aspects of the current economic situation into account—a threelegged stool. And it will make our recovery more fragile and our future less secure.62 Right Brain/Left Brain President environment. we must build this recovery on a foundation that lasts—on a 21stcentury infrastructure and a green economy with lower health care costs that create millions of new jobs and new industries. if you will. In a second example Obama continues to explain his overarching strategy for economic recovery with big-picture orientation.3 In his speech to this key business audience. Instead. Putting off these investments for another four years or eight years or twelve years or twenty years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point. on schools that prepare our children to compete and thrive. This crisis teaches us that such activity is not the creation of lasting wealth—it’s the illusion of prosperity. as acute and urgent as they are. We can’t continue to base our economy on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means. It would be exactly what Washington has done for decades. You see. I’m doing so because they’re fundamental to our economic growth. and education in tandem. . Obama looks with vigilance at the whole of the nation. 2009. and ensuring that we don’t have more crises like this in the future.
when Obama was asked about his decision to shut down the Guantanamo prison and change the way prisoners are handled there. clever and preemptive in attempting to reverse the tide of negative perceptions as it relates to United States’s image and safety. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment which means there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against us and our interests around the world. in the next example we see additional nuances of Obama’s strategic thinking. interview on the television program 60 Minutes. Now do these folks deserve Miranda rights—do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not. televised press conference about the impact of the Obama tax plan on charitable contributions from the wealthy—would the plan curtail giving? Obama replied. President: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. is a financial crisis in an economy that’s contracting. He is decidedly shrewd. Interviewer: A few weeks ago Vice President Cheney said essentially that your willingness to shut down Guantanamo and to change the way prisoners are treated and interrogated was making America weaker and more vulnerable to attack. seeing beyond its discrete components to the nature and essence of the matter. 2009.”5 . “I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving. this time with respect to a national security matter. It hasn’t made us safer.4 Here you see more of Obama’s thoughtful consideration and insightful scrutiny.Obama 63 Moving from the economy. In a final example we see Obama once again leading from the strategic right. responsible decisions about how we approach the closing of Guantanamo? Absolutely. This next example comes from a March 22. seeing imminent favorable consequences of new actions— closing one aspect of anti-American sentiment. That’s why I said it’s going to take us a year. not surprising you know. I think that the Vice President has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can’t somehow reconcile our core values—our constitution—our belief that we don’t torture with our national security interests. 2009. The facts don’t marry him out. Interviewer: Some of it being organized by at least a few people who have been released from Guantanamo. He was questioned during a March 24. With intuitive sense Obama notes probable fallout from staying the present course. He is theoretical and global— speculating how a change to our current practices can positively impact our position at home and abroad. to get businesses opening their doors again. Then I think charities will do just fine. From his intuitive awareness Obama is able to be anticipatory. to get banks lending again. President: Well there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals and who are swept up and we never did a good job of sorting through that. He looks at the situation carefully. But are we going to have to make a series of careful. and to get people back to work again. deliberate. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy.
was socialized to innovate. his first response is to ponder it—to consider it in the broadest sense. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. More than most of us. He learned the importance of structure and discipline and also when it was time to stop and take in all that was around him. spontaneous. An Innovative Approach A man touched down on the moon. He is less inclined to react and more likely to seek alternative or novel solutions. We see root cause thinking. Traditional education favors structure over inventiveness. his artistic side remained. and to invent. Instead of looking at one aspect of his tax plan he looks more broadly to the economy overall as the driver of discrete impacts. or an obstacle. a dead end. . to dream. through his unusual life experiences and from the free-spirited character of his mother. a world was connected by our own science and imagination . and get our work done.64 Right Brain/Left Brain President Here we see another approach that extends beyond the immediate. to overcome it rather than to reinvent our approach. Obama pushes beyond his present existence to imagine what could be. —Barack Obama6 To think from one’s imagination is the hallmark of a right-brain innovative approach. We are often taught discipline at the expense of ingenuity. His strategic purpose can then guide the path chosen. tangible accomplishment is rewarded. to experiment. to be playful or creative. He learned to open his mind up to a world waiting to be understood. Propelled by vision and armed with a creative spirit all his own. Most of us are typically socialized out of our creative sense. he is a true innovator. a trending away from surface remediation. “Every child is an artist. Obama grew up encouraged to produce and to play—to accomplish and to marvel. his innovative sense was kept in the forefront and as a result. When he finds himself lacking the wherewithal to push the creative envelope and/or when urgency is a factor he will bring in others who can get through the issue more fully and with efficiency. How many times throughout your life can you recall being encouraged to forge new ground. on the other hand. bursting with childlike wonder. . He is phenomenological—seeking to comprehend the nature of an experience. or unconventional? These are not the typical adult emphases. He grew up experiencing side by side the need to be both convergent and divergent in his thinking. The key point here is that he is both disposed to innovative thought and sees it as a valued step in one’s thinking process. not merely attend to its facade. Obama. Yes we can. In short. While we come into the world wide-eyed. As leaders when we come up against a challenge or an obstacle we are often expected to push past it. We are expected to fit in. a wall came down in Berlin. we are encouraged to conform. He learned how to suppose. Pablo Picasso once said. be serious. . When Obama encounters a problem. coalescing high-powered think tanks to drive needed innovation.”7 As adults. to be curious. In each case in point Obama is able to read into a situation. Obama will call upon experts.
as well as unconventional. in-the-moment thinking. What we find is evidence of several innovative traits in how he interacts with others. interested in the new and uncommon. Obama’s playful side adds a good-humored quality that is refreshing in someone of his stature. his inner child. In a sense. novelty seeking. willing to consider the unusual as evidenced by his openness to people. We saw evidence of Obama’s groundbreaking and venturesome sides surface as he took office. the new Obama family pet. his lightheartedness keeps his brain flexible. We see it in what comes across at times as a genuinely playful interpersonal style. more fully and broadly engaged. views. less in the sense that he takes life as it comes (not something remotely possible for one in his position). poise Obama for two more innovative traits. The traits of innovative leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Pioneering—forging new ground Risk taking—taking a chance Playful—fun-loving Creative—able to generate original ideas or concepts Novelty seeking—interested in the new or unknown Imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely Experimental—interested in trial and error Curious—eager to know Spontaneous—living in the moment Unconventional—willing to consider the unusual To begin to know Obama’s innovative nature we can look to certain aspects of his everyday actions. that of being pioneering and risk taking. if you will. More importantly. participating in a heated political debate. His approach to . playful. more leaderly attributes. and spontaneous. His right-brain intensity fosters an absorbed concentration indicative of spontaneous. If you watch Obama he will seldom seem preoccupied. these five ingrained innovative traits. Whether talking to a concerned citizen at a town hall meeting. unconventional. When coupled with his other. “The most potent muse is that of our own inner child. We also see that he is curious—he is eager to know and to understand.”8Obama’s inner child has been continuously nurtured throughout his life and taught to coexist with and to enhance his adult executive brain. Creativity author Stephen Nachmanovitch said. or getting to know Bo. but more from the standpoint of his ability to be fully engaged in the moment. and ideas that are different from his own. He is novelty seeking.Obama 65 The right-brain innovative behavior means to have an open mind and to be able to think creatively without restraint. In Obama’s case it is an endearing aspect of his relational depth. he will joke with the media or poke fun at himself in interviews. Obama can shift his attention on impulse. He is completely focused on the situation at hand. Some could question whether such an attribute is presidential. This boylike quality is reflective of his innovative brain. curious. His inquisitiveness is fundamental to his personality. He is spontaneous.
It appears that he did so because he saw the interrelationships of the issues and therefore the potential for solutions on one front to impact another. the risk that some would see it as moving too quickly or having too much on the proverbial plate. and solutions were sought while delving for cross-pollination of impacts. not a revolution.” leaving the true innovation to the scientists. for that matter. and education. Obama’s stance demonstrates his innovative intent and right brain/left brain interplay. He balances trial and error with fierce left-brain scrutiny. to generate novelty and original direction while scrutinizing such prospects every step of the way. Ironically. Of the remaining traits of innovative leadership. 2009. rather than work unilaterally. ensuring that adequate monitoring and safety nets are in place. health care. alternate energy sources. in matrixlike fashion. This example was first introduced in the previous section on strategic leadership. He will throw out “for instances. taking on each as a discrete matter. he is willing to attempt the untried. With such leadership he will progressively get to the change he so intently campaigned on but at no time be endangered by it. Obama pushes for advancement while keeping a safe tether. or in any high-level leader. When looking for an example to use for this section on innovation. showing Obama’s opposition to advanced interrogation techniques. Even more unusual is his ability to integrate right.66 Right Brain/Left Brain President the myriad of issues he was facing was to work these challenges in consort. You will see how his right-brain innovative strong suits pave the way and how his left-brain prudence secures him. On May 21. I found it interesting to land on one concerning a national security matter. to let his mind wonder what is possible. Obama’s position on the aspect of national security you are about to read is relevant to both his innovative intent and to the interplay of his right. Still. Obama’s ability to suppose demonstrates his innovative spirit. for example. We see his imagination at play when we listen to him consider. He is imaginative in his ability to visualize the unlikely.and left-brain thinking. He opted to forge new ground in tackling long-standing issues such as the environment. we see Obama’s willingness to employ calculated trials to identify the most effective means of addressing never-before-seen economic threats. Creativity was in play as well as fresh ideas. Obama’s mandates to push the discovery envelope exhibits his commitment to innovation overall. along with the ever-pressing economic matters. We see in Obama more of an innovative intent than one would typically find in a politician. we should also know that Obama is equally intent on guarding our safety. Change will be an evolution. the ability to be experimental and imaginative. He took a calculated risk by adopting this integrated approach.and left-brain thinking herein. While we could feel at times as if we are gesturing out into the abyss. In an excerpt from his speech Obama had this to say: . this national security issue was again at the forefront of the news as President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney battled through separate primetime televised addresses on the subject.
equality and dignity in the world . But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process. Unlike the Civil War or World War II. the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable—a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions. there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. . and a light that shines for all who seek freedom. . But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. As I said. However. For reasons that I will explain. . . . And that is why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people. Now. I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. . . For the first time since 2002.Obama 67 My single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe . and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country. We are investing in the 21st-century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. We have reenergized a global nonproliferation regime to deny the world’s most dangerous people access to the world’s deadliest weapons. The third decision that I made was to order a review of all the pending cases at Guantanamo. the Bill of Rights—are not simply words written into aging parchment. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States. These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. The documents that we hold in this very hall—the Declaration of Independence. We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt. we cannot count on a surrender ceremony to bring . and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster. fairness. Now let me be clear: we are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. . dismantle. I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. and launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. that failed to use our values as a compass. . . . and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. the Constitution. First. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. We are better protecting our border. we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. That is why my administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law . this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world . in checks and balances and accountability. Finally. I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people.
if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. But I can say with certainty that my administration—along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security—will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. He then shifts seamlessly between right-brain strategic and innovative thought to left-brain grounded actions. not alienates us from them. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. His unconventional thinking gives rise to certain understandings about the true nature of the situation. to return the country to its constitutional values. Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. Obama leads from the right innovative brain. recognizing a new and complex threat. As Obama uses both sides of his brain in spontaneous fashion he is able to land on a position that returns the nation to the values it was founded upon. Acknowledging that we are venturing into uncharted waters and fighting a new kind of enemy. approaches that must take into full account the nature of this enemy. endless possible scenarios would have to be surmised to remain ahead of this threat. He would certainly have to be versed in the unconventional— the unusual—and to be novelty seeking—interested in the unknown—if he and those who work with him on this matter are ever to come to grips with precisely what they are dealing with. Probably the biggest mistake we could make in defending ourselves against such an enemy would be to generalize a solution rather than to seek a solution that takes into consideration the distinctions and uniqueness of our adversaries. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies. He must show good stewardship and trustworthiness. Such innovative positioning confirms his established strategic assumptions: that we must act from a position that builds our alliances. Obama rejects reactive thinking. he must be imaginative—able to visualize and think about the unlikely. and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are. If you need additional convincing about the innovative spirit of the president. That will be the case a year from now. and as such. it requires different approaches. think of the imbedded aspects of innovation he applies. not just to our nation but to the world. To win this war. Obama’s desire to return us to our core values is in this instance a truly innovative position in that he is both pioneering and risk taking in attempting to reverse our present course. Right now. there are people plotting to take American lives. and—in all probability—ten years from now. look to what was being called an unprecedented Middle East effort. His left brain is telling him that he must instead be grounded.9 As you read over these passages from the president’s full address on national security. Obama’s rightbrain innovative thinking is telling him that this is a different situation.68 Right Brain/Left Brain President this journey to an end. in distant training camps and in crowded cities. five years from now. In June 2009 Obama embarked on a tour of this region that culminated in a fifty-five-minute ad- .
In a worldwide broadcast to two billion Muslims throughout the Arab and Muslim world. . front and center is the quote you see above. I’m asking you to believe in yours. dodging ambushes without evading the issues. With artful sensitivity he navigated through the minefields lettered with cultural explosive devices and politic-religious booby traps. it may seem at times as if Obama’s reasoning is unsubstantiated or driven solely by personal beliefs. Next to the Web site’s logo is the title “Organizing for America. They are generating scenarios and taking steps to push beyond the conventional. His pioneering and risk taking sides took him to the international region that is for the United States the most complicated sell. His right-brain strategic purpose and left-brain grounded intent pave the way. —Barack Obama12 When you go to Barack Obama’s official Web site. Specifically we see the incremental effect when he not only draws from multiple right-brain strengths but then shifts with ease to incorporate left-brain strong suits as well. improving our . BarackObama. the president sought to recast the United States’ global image and perspective. His overall innovative facility made it possible for him to see the full depth of his challenge and to therefore prepare fully for the event.Obama 69 dress at Cairo University in Egypt.”10 CNN senior political analyst David Gergen reported. As an example of the praise. “The most powerful and persuasive speech everby any American president to the Muslim world. edition of Financial Times said. while his innovative side pushes him further to seek and craft inventive solutions. strategic and innovative.” As you continue to browse the site you see listed the issues that are on the president’s agenda—reforming the health care system. The fact that his innovative side is predicated upon by sound strategic thinking and modulated by solid analytical scrutiny makes his brand of innovation a secure proposition. A Transformational Imperative I’m asking you to believe not just in my ability to bring change to Washington . A leap of faith is required to appreciate the power in Obama’s innovative perspective. the June 5. For those less creatively inclined. True innovators like Obama are connecting the hypothetical dots in such a way that new and different opportunities can be unearthed. Thus far we see that Obama has pronounced strengths in the right-brain behaviors. For now keep in mind the crucial role innovation plays in a leader’s overall impact.”11 Obama’s milestone Cairo University address will be covered in greater detail later on in the chapter.com. “The speech was brilliant. Critiques following the president’s speech were resoundingly positive. as is seen here. The fact that Obama is somewhat unique in that he appears prewired to innovate—it is second nature to him—makes him at ease with what may seem for many of us intangible. 2009. . With this array of behavioral abilities he is well able to set the groundwork for transformation. those more tangible in nature.
in small steps Adaptive—able to change Mentoring—able to teach and coach Alignment driven—helping to unify others around directions and goals Let us examine Obama’s fit as an agent of change. we can see numerous transformational traits portrayed.14 In his brief beginning sentences Obama demonstrates his star pupil status. and rethinking approaches to the environment and to energy sources. The right-brain guiding leadership behavior transformational means to drive change in cultures. I am grateful for your hospitality. and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. 2009. For over a thousand years. candid story. Obama continues: . As his speech continues he shows more of how he is open to learning. speech at Cairo University. and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. Through information power you can demonstrate credibility in understanding. He lets the audience know that he has taken the time to be familiar with his host. The actual definition of the word transformational is to change somebody or something completely. Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning. thoughts. Following you will find the opening paragraph of his address. balanced. He does so by the sheer facts and history he conveys and through the context he is able to set. For Obama transformation is an imperative. especially improving their appearance or usefulness. He can build trust and respect based on his factually accurate. and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum. Transformational leadership traits are: • • • • • • • • • • Open to learning—interested in knowledge Assimilative—bringing people and constructs together Attuned—keyed into current realities Ambiguity allowing—able to deal with the uncertainties of change Facilitative—operating as a catalyst Opportunity conscious—looking for appropriate prospects Incremental—working progressively. In Obama’s case he can communicate to the world and to the people before him that he knows how we arrived at this juncture. He comes into every new situation well studied. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo.13 Barack Obama is aggressively seeking to transform America. Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people. reclaiming Washington. He greets them in their vernacular. recasting our global image. you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. teams. and individuals relative to values. Through this knowledge-based skill you can convey to those you seek to enlist that you get it. and for over a century. and actions.70 Right Brain/Left Brain President education system. Looking once again to the president’s June 4. Together.
that isn’t black or white or brown. tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims. Moreover. and that still beats in the heart of billions. not just the easy path. and it’s what brought me here today. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion—that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. but also to human rights.Obama 71 We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world—tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. It is easier to start wars than to end them. This has bred more fear and mistrust. we find the compelling case for change is more readily set and considered. and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. More recently. The attacks of September 11th. that isn’t Christian. and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians have led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries. He comprehensively references specific recent conflicts. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences. It is easier to blame others than to look inward. But we should choose the right path. to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. and to respect the dignity of all human beings. An evolution of circumstance is described. It’s a faith in other people. He concludes his address with the following remarks: All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. 2001. the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. Obama’s statements show not only solid historical foundation but that he is attuned to current realities as well. His presence in Cairo along with the words spoken demonstrate his assimilative side—his intent on bringing people and constructs together—as well as his facilitative manner— his ability to operate as a catalyst. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end. This truth transcends nations and peoples—a belief that isn’t new. instead. to focus on the future we seek for our children. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization. factual depictions of a changing world are chronicled.15 Drawing from an established and masterfully unbiased learning foundation. With this as with many of his public appearances Obama shows that he is opportunity conscious. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. circumstances. we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace. but also conflict and religious wars. or whether we commit ourselves to an effort—a sustained effort—to find common ground. or Muslim or Jew. In the closing paragraphs of Obama’s Cairo address we see additional facets of his transformational ability. . The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart. looking for appropriate prospects through which to convey his messages of change. and issues. Blame is not assigned.
and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires. Obama began mentoring his audience. to respect one another. As a boy. timeless poetry and cherished music. paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” The people of the world can live together in peace.17 He is clearly alignment driven. seeking to unify his global listeners around his directions and goals. that must be our work here on Earth. our mastery of pens and printing. Obama then moved to speak from his heart and from his own personal and professional experiences to convey his passion and hope for building new bonds and appreciations between groups currently divided. knowing that change comes . I am a Christian. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other. “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth. And may God’s peace be upon you. but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.16 Moving from student to teacher. our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. stating. The Holy Koran tells us. “Blessed are the peacemakers. elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. He is incremental by nature. but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. But I am convinced that in order to move forward. and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.” The Holy Bible tells us. for they shall be called sons of God. to learn from each other. And throughout history.” That is what I will try to do—to speak the truth as best I can. It was Islam—at places like Al-Azhar University—that carried the light of learning through so many centuries.” The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. humbled by the task before us. our magnetic compass and tools of navigation. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra. I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. As the Holy Koran tells us. I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. We know that is God’s vision.72 Right Brain/Left Brain President We have the power to make the world we seek. As a young man. I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts. nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. Thank you. and that too often are said only behind closed doors. As a student of history. Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. relaying the common threads in the world’s religious doctrines. and to seek common ground. Now. “O mankind! We have created you male and a female. keeping in mind what has been written.
Obama is thus a lifelong student of change. the unknown and the uncharted. validating. thoughts. giving him firsthand understanding of what is required when we seek to revolutionize. it is yet another step in a long line of targets still to be realized. Negotiating the gray areas of life. to gain their devotion to a cause or plight. —Barack Obama18 To engage others means to bring them on board. He possesses a discerning ability to understand others’ perspectives and believes in the power of teamwork as well as the need for everyone on a team to do his or her part. not revolutions. adaptive and ambiguity allowing. and adjust. that you have their support. He believes in the premise that the continued thrust of small. He knows full well what can come from actions that seek to positively reshape the values. In a December 1. He has had to live it. He is in effect a walking testament to the power of transformation. Of the two remaining transformational traits. reconcile. was fundamental to his adjustment and success. Obama’s cornerstone has been his interpersonal style. His world demanded continuous adaptation. and ambiguity are key determinants in his current changeleadership proficiency. He embraces it. Engaging Underpinnings Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. puts others at ease. and actions of others. As a leader. and is able to reach across lines. and respects its complexity. He is truly inspirational and enigmatic. and recognizing others and helping them take responsibility. values it. What has been most consistent in Obama’s messages throughout his candidacy and his new presidency is his engaging references. He had to cope with recurring uncertainties on multiple fronts. One shining example of successful incremental change is the civil rights movement and Obama’s election to office. party and otherwise. The guiding leadership behavior engaging is defined as understanding and working well with others. 2008. to engage someone means that you can count on them to contribute. Obama’s own remarkable story now works in his leadership favor. Someone who is engaged will produce and accomplish through their willingness to own a part of the end result. and in assessing Obama’s facility with each. He is a good listener. Obama’s life experience in adaptation. unrelenting steps makes the difference. and family structures and to reconcile trying personal circumstances. to interest them in something you are trying to accomplish. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. recall Obama’s personal history. when asked about the appointment of his national security team. While an impetus milestone in that movement for sure. televised interview. social classes.Obama 73 from approximations toward a goal—from evolutions. involving. Obama knows all too well the contests transformations pose. to live in a cross-section of geographic regions. Obama remarked that he was committed to creating . Obama was continuously required to evolve. diversity. is reverent and courteous. To exist in dual worlds. We are the change we seek.
. It is nonetheless rare to see a top leader with well-honed and natural people skills who can also be formidable. More on Obama’s assertiveness will follow. patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass. squelching potentially productive debate. . especially into others’ thoughts Listening—paying attention for accurate understanding Respectful—having consideration for others Responsive—addressing the concerns of others Inclusive—involving everyone Collaborative—working along with others Empathic—understanding others’ perspectives Empowering—giving responsibility to others Charismatic—enthusing others through personal magnetism Motivational—inspiring others in positive action In his inaugural address Obama made the following statements steeped in engaging leadership: For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength. Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers. The traits of engaging leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Inquisitive—probing further. and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace . With respect to Obama’s engagement skills. . but because they embody the spirit of service. and for a leader. and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united. that as the world grows smaller.19 Groupthink is a term in interpersonal communications that means the perceived absence of conflict. The fact that Obama so naturally and openly referenced his determination to avert such a dynamic is yet another example of his uncommon leadership. rather it is essential that they occur in unison. just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve. We are shaped by every language and culture. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty. drawn from every end of this Earth. cannot coexist. at this very hour. Obama’s likability and interpersonal skill are in fact so pronounced that they have called into question his ability to stand strong. let’s examine the ten traits of this important behavior and see what makes Obama so inclined. They are not mutually exclusive. As we consider the road that unfolds before us. not a weakness. engaging and assertive. our common humanity shall reveal itself. Teams where members are too alike are often susceptible to groupthink since differing opinions simply don’t exist. and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation. we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who. They have something to tell us today. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims.74 Right Brain/Left Brain President a team with strong opinions as he believed such a team would be able to make the best decisions and not fall prey to groupthink. as if the two behaviors. Leaders who don’t permit a free exchange of information will also cause groupthink. It also unmistakably points to his commitment to engagement.
and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. courage and fair play. we refused to let this journey end. the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: “Let it be told to the future world . our nation and the world. and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us. nor did we falter. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. But those values upon which our success depends—hard work and honesty. let us remember these timeless words. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. that in the depth of winter. that the city and the country. . So let us mark this day with remembrance. in this winter of our hardship. The capital was abandoned. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition. but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child. a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. With hope and virtue. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break. For as much as government can do and must do. loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed—why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall. tolerance and curiosity. The instruments with which we meet them may be new.Obama 75 a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. that finally decides our fate. In the face of our common dangers. Countless others all over the world viewed the event and heard the president’s words. . Our challenges may be new. alarmed at one common danger. . At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt. and endure what storms may come. so defining of our character. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. These things are true. that we have duties to ourselves. we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke. on the part of every American. And yet. that we did not turn back. This is the price and the promise of citizenship. in the coldest of months. it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. came forth to meet [it]. the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. let us brave once more the icy currents. This is the source of our confidence—the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. In the year of America’s birth.20 One and a half million people attended the president’s inauguration. when nothing but hope and virtue could survive . . than giving our all to a difficult task. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. . at this moment—a moment that will define a generation—it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. of who we are and how far we have traveled.” America.
He showed his listening skill as he relayed the historic values of our nation. In this way he is able to convey empathy—the ability to relate to others’ perspectives along with an inquisitive or interested position. Obama’s superior empathic ability is rooted in his upbringing and in the perspectives of both his mother and father. With his reference to the strength of our “patchwork” heritage along with his mention of all global factions he was inclusive. In his less formal communications and positions Obama has an uncanny ability to show us our place—how we can and should get involved. who were above all matched in their appreciation for humanity. Some estimates go as high as 85 percent. the person holding the highest seat of power. moving.21 Nonverbal communication is a critical factor in engagement. That means that others pay less attention to what we say and more attention to how we say it. and out of that curiosity he is well able to tune into others’ views. If he is speaking about his direction on environmental reform he will clearly articulate his plan and follow immediately with what each and every citizen can do to contribute to the effort. No doubt Obama has the power to engage. eye contact. This address was vintage Obama in its ability to prompt and encourage. He was collaborative and empowering as he described how the success of a nation comes from the contributions. Without compromise to his stature. His references to past plights and tomorrow’s lights expressed passionately and poetically were both charismatic and motivational. In the concluding remarks from his inaugural address we see more precisely the qualities of engaging leadership. Aspects of nonverbal communication include facial expressions. he is also able to relate to the everyday person in an unpretentious manner. involving everyone in his call. whining. While he is the president. an empathic tack engenders sharing. and voice of its citizens. Whereas nonempathic approaches produce telling. laughter.76 Right Brain/Left Brain President The event was without incident. His rather ordinary relational style is an effective equalizer. A responsive tone was reiterated throughout the address as arduous times were acknowledged. His ability to “walk in the shoes of another” must be underscored in terms of how it enables Obama to bring others together. and pitch. The communication rule of thumb is that upwards of 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Your nonverbal communication will ultimately be what communicates your messages. he can in a moment be one of us. and exhilarating. He validated who we are as a people and he engendered a spirit of involvement. understanding. and openness for all involved. A final aspect of engaging leadership to consider is that of nonverbal behavior. responsibility. When the behavior savvy is examined you will see how Obama’s engaging strong suits contribute to his ability as a diplomat. yelling. rate of speech. Obama’s empathy and inquisitiveness work in tandem—he is curious about the world and its people. and vice versa. silence. gestures. touch. vocal qualities and tone. In his expression of validation and thanks he showed his respectful consideration of our servicemen and women. Consider . it was peaceful. one-way tones.
especially during times of stress. He slows his speech down and repeats key phrases that he wants to be sure to emphasize. . It makes us more likely to listen to him even when we disagree with what he is saying. meaning his facility in each of the four behaviors runs across many or most of the behaviors’ discrete traits. Upon closer examination you would even find several behavior traits that are their cornerstones. it will be interesting to see if we find the same levels of breadth and depth. rather than to extend in a broader manner across the leadership behavioral plane. His nuances and qualities of nonverbal communication match the situation. more genuine. This makes him more believable. Instead the leader would likely act from more ingrained behavioral habits. Overall. serious times. There would be less seamless behavioral shifting in the “checks and balance” manner from which our brain is wired to work. You would instead most probably find the tendency to overplay strengths. when you combine what he says with how he says it. He makes good eye contact. Obama. In addition he possesses great depth. I hope you are beginning to see that it is the nuances that make the difference in Obama’s leadership—the fact that he acts from such a broad set of behaviors and traits and that he does so in a naturally integrated fashion. Noting Breadth and Depth As we consider Obama’s overall right-brain leadership ability we see two notables— he has both right-brain leadership breadth—he acts from all four right-brain leadership guiding behaviors. You would seldom find the breadth and depth you see in Obama. Typically. He becomes more stern and definitive in his speech during heightened. on the other hand. is less disposed to such predilections and more prone to behavioral diversity. All of these things draw us to him. He is pleasant and expresses genuine positive emotion where appropriate. we find Obama’s engaging ability to be exceptional. if you were to examine several good or great leaders you would no doubt find several of the right-brain behaviors at which they are masterful.Obama 77 Obama’s nonverbal demeanor. As we move next to an examination of Obama’s left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. He is known for being even in tone and temperament.
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While he may have been encouraged to dream and to wonder. What we notice today in Obama is flawless left-brain order. discrete steps. Above all. In essence it is the role of the left brain to structure and drive the vision that the right brain has determined. a staging toward one’s goals. analytics.Chapter 5 Obama’s Vision Realized Methodical: A Call to Action There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. High standards for achievement were set. and attention to detail. The ten traits of methodical leadership are: • • • • • • Task oriented—attentive to assignments Detail oriented—attentive to discrete parts of assignments Organized—orderly and systematic Eﬀective—producing workable solutions and results Focused—able to establish and attend to priorities Procedural—using systems and processes . A methodical leader employs systematic scrutiny to craft elemental objectives. he was expected to perform. his day-to-day existence was marked by the rather common preoccupations of a structured and disciplined life. To be methodical requires that you well organize your charge. accomplishment was requisite. The guiding leadership behavior methodical and its ten corresponding traits will display Obama’s preparatory capability. —Barack Obama1 As atypical as certain aspects of Obama’s upbringing were. It also means that you are efficient and systematic in your approach. taking into consideration tasks and details. qualities necessary to develop and execute master plans. Methodical leadership ensures that near-term tactics. and actions are created that contribute to overarching long-term strategies.
Additionally the Obama plan proposed an oversight council that would charge regulators with monitoring both oversight and communication across the financial sector to address issues that may have fallen between the cracks. but also—for the first time—at the stability of the financial system as a whole. no one was responsible for protecting the whole system from the kinds of risks that tied these firms to one another. Obama began by stating: With the reforms we’re proposing today. without the fragility in which normal business cycles suddenly bring the risk of financial collapse. They did not opt to start from scratch. In how Obama has described his reform thus far we see evidence of his analytical and detail-oriented facility. First. they behaved like banks but chose to be regulated as insurance companies. Regulators were charged with seeing the trees. Instead Obama led a focused approach. And even then. . One of the reasons this crisis could take place is that while many agencies and regulators were responsible for overseeing individual financial firms and their subsidiaries.80 • • • • Right Brain/Left Brain President Sequential—cognizant of the likely order of things Logical—rational and reasonable. the president immediately connects his tactic to the overarching strategic intent—to avert another house of cards or a snowballing effect that could place the entire financial system at risk again. or investment firms. Obama goes on to explain. recognizing what makes the best sense Analytical—breaking an entity into its parts Factual—basing assertions on tangible data and evidence On June 17. we’re proposing a set of reforms to require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions. In an address to the nation Obama highlighted the main points of this latest reform. . we seek to put in place rules that will allow our markets to promote innovation while discouraging abuse.2 In this opening point. He was also intent on mandating greater reserves that such organizations maintain as added safeguards. . but not the forest. The document was eighty-eight pages in length and marked yet another step in the series of actions the president took to address the global economic crisis. some firms that posed a so-called “systemic risk” were not regulated as strongly as others. Obama noted that in developing this plan they sought to address targeted flaws that left us vulnerable to securing our safety as we move ahead. We seek to create a framework in which markets can function freely and fairly. The president went on to describe the additional authority he would grant to the Federal Reserve to regulate large entities that create potential for risk. He began by setting the context and then delineated the compelling case for change. or other entities that were under less scrutiny. the president unveiled the specifics of his financial regulatory reform plan. requiring regulators to provide oversight into both individual institutions and the interrelationship between these institutions. 2009. In describing the plan’s three salient features. we want a system that works for businesses and consumers .
He goes on to describe the second key element of his reform. with more fine print and more hidden terms .3 In this excerpt.4 Obama’s final point described a series of changes designed to promote free and fair markets by closing gaps and overlaps in our regulatory system—including gaps that exist not just within but between nations . . regulated by a strengthened federal supervisor. . we have a process through the FDIC that protects depositors and maintains confidence in the banking system. for example—has an interest in ensuring that a loan is actually paid back. You’ll be able to compare products and see what’s best for you. charged with protecting consumers. to establish a potent agency that will look out for the interest of the everyday consumer. This agency will have the power to set standards so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want—and actually understand. and accurate. Think about this: If a bank fails. Obama demonstrates his procedural manner by looking at how to best leverage systems and processes. By setting common-sense . so that the lender—and not just the holder of a security. Hedge fund advisors will be required to register with the SEC. we will dismantle the Office of Thrift Supervision and close loopholes that have allowed important institutions to cherry-pick among banking rules. noting that there were also millions of Americans who signed contracts they didn’t always understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth . like the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers will be provided information that is simple. Companies compete not by offering better products. We’re also proposing comprehensive regulation of credit default swaps and other derivatives that have threatened the entire financial system. . And we will require the originator of a loan to retain an economic interest in that loan. . . which in turn threatened wider turmoil. There are other agencies.Obama’s Vision Realized 81 As part of this effort we’re proposing the creation of what’s called “resolution authority” for large and interconnected financial firms so that we’re not only putting in place safeguards to prevent the failure of these firms. And it works. Those ridiculous contracts with pages of fine print that no one can figure out . We will offer only one federal banking charter. and we must ensure that those agencies have the resources and the state-of-the-art tools to stop unfair and deceptive practices as well. or the largest and most interconnected financial firms in our country. We’ll raise capital requirements for all depository institutions. . transparent. but more complicated ones. This process was created during the Great Depression when the failure of one bank led to runs on other banks. Yet we don’t have any effective system in place to contain the failure of an AIG. The most unfair practices will be banned. The mission of this new agency must also be reflected in the work we do throughout the government. . . He is factual in explaining the rationale for such oversight. but also a set of orderly procedures that will allow us to protect the economy if such a firm does in fact go underwater.
82 Right Brain/Left Brain President rules. One would describe him as “buttoned-up” in overall approach. In vintage Obama clean and clear summary style. Obama’s response to a critical matter is systematic. ordered.and left-brain interplay as the president worked from a matrix format to identify interconnections among and between issues wherever possible. more internally driven than externally determined. In an attempt to create a plan that is effective we heard Obama’s proposed workable solutions: • • • • • Extending oversight to the Federal Reserve Giving government the power to break up large ﬁrms Regulating complex securities Creating a consumer protection agency Coordinating regulations worldwide 6 The president’s aggressive attention to the economic crisis. As you look over Obama’s first six months in office. Obama adheres to a rigorous exercise regimen. For each separate matter he was able to go step-by-step. We saw Obama’s methodical stance originally in how he ran his campaign. and he and Michelle defined a set “date-night” upon moving into the White House— the Obamas’ way to plan for a regular return to their social life given the voluminous demands on their time. More striking is the right. we can easily map his style to that of a sound methodical leader. For example. While showing that he can handle numerous demands—his exact words. While one may argue that Obama had little choice but to act and to act quickly on the economic front. In the preceding example from the early stages of his presidency. Next we saw an effectively run and focused transition team. rather than destructive role. these kinds of financial instruments can play a constructive. and rational. with multiple critical issues on the table. data-driven. to use broad-based data to inform decisions. you can see aspects of this important tactical behavior as . Thinking about how Obama approaches his work and his life. that he is attentive to the work at hand. Obama’s systematic command seems more about who he is. Obama demonstrates how he is both sequential and logical. with well-organized plans down to the smallest of tasks and details.5 With this set of orderly plausible steps. to act with common sense. to dissect. We can see similar examples of order in his personal life. Obama had attacked a range of problems with methodical precision. shows his task-oriented side. to order. Using the Methodical Leadership Checklist below. “I believe a president should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time”7— Obama addressed manifold issues at once. adding this latest proposed reform to the previous actions he took to right the economy. the president demonstrated his organized approach. and to put sound processes in place to support overall intent.
Here is a scorecard for you to use to rate the president on his methodical leadership ability.8 One would expect that he will receive consistently high marks on this opening left-brain leadership skill set. A man stood up to the microphone to ask a question and remarked that he was at the meeting with his ten-year old daughter. ___ Detail oriented: Ground my day in the discrete parts of the assignments.Obama’s Vision Realized 83 it reveals itself in the day-to-day thoughts and actions of a leader like Obama. She’s with me. who was missing her . ___ Effective: Consider the conditions that would need to be met to meet goals in the best way possible. netting workable solutions or results. The success of one’s plans. Obama is a fan of scorecards. METHODICAL LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST ___ Task oriented: Ground my day in the assignments at hand. weaknesses. opportunities. is often determined in part by one’s ability to adequately communicate them. ___ Analytical: Examine elements and relationships for plan and goal strengths. ___ Sequential: Determine the best order and time frames for the work. Expressive Excellence Please excuse Kennedy from school today. and track Obama periodically on his methodical ability. 2009. Wisconsin. however. Enhance the checklist by using a scale from one to ten with ten being outstanding. ___ Organized: Consider how to resource and track the work to ensure systematic order. ___ Focused: Examine the work scope and resources available to prioritize tasks and initiatives and attend to those established. A leader must connect through words with those with whom he is involved. —Barack Obama9 On June 11. and threats. ___ Procedural: Ensure that adequate processes and systems are in place. A leader must be able to convey salient points at precise moments and in the right forums. the president was speaking at a town hall meeting in Green Bay. Such is the charge of expressive leadership. ___ Logical: Look back over the plan to date to ensure that it makes good overall sense. ___ Factual: Provide the facts to back up assertions.
go ahead. that of expressive leadership. The president: Kennedy. (Laughter. It means that you provide audiences with the needed context. and crystal-clear speaking. and that you are compelling and encouraging. President. He is jokingly called the teleprompter president for his buttoned-up addresses. Mr. go ahead. What’s her name? The dad: Well. “Please excuse Kennedy from school today. (Laughter. In today’s internet world one has to come across equally well virtually. She’s with me. in this case. (Laughter and applause. In this section on expressive leadership we see yet another example of Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. The dad commented that he hoped she wasn’t going to get in trouble. We see great depth in a given left-brain guiding leadership behavior. I’m going to write to Kennedy’s teacher. yet in the exchange described here with a young girl’s father at a town hall meeting. Obama quickly reacted with the following banter: The president: Oh. (Laughter. To be expressive is to clearly communicate your thoughts. All right. we catch a glimpse of Obama’s ease with the impromptu. that’s a cool name. and handed a note to them.” Obama is known for his eloquent. Obama’s expressive ability is far-reaching. In addition we see continuous right-brain collaboration with the behavior engaging.10 Obama finished writing. “Barack Obama.) The president: All right. I’m listening to your question. no.) Okay. walked over to the family.) Do you need me to write a note? The dad: I’ll take you up on that actually. inspirational. considering I have some people here from work that are very interested in— The president: No. poising Obama for enhanced leadership impact. A leader’s messages then must be tailored to varied channels to be effective. Obama’s expressive leadership impact takes on his own unique brand. It read. no. The traits of expressive leadership are: • • • • • • • Prepared—giving the necessary forethought to formal and informal messages Articulate—able to write and speak with clarity Coherent—able to write and speak logically Concise—able to write and speak succinctly Erudite—able to express yourself from the basis of scholarly knowledge Presentable—having a professional presence and demeanor Passionate—having intensity and/or enthusiasm with respect to your subject matter .” The note was signed.84 Right Brain/Left Brain President last day of school to see the president. that you converse and come across well. thank you. What’s your daughter’s name? The dad: Her name is Kennedy. When his base communication skills are melded with his interpersonal flair. An expressive leader can master all mediums from face-to-face conversations to formal presentations and doctrine. I’m serious. The president: All right.) The dad: That’s a very cool name. I’ll start writing it now.
articulate. He makes compelling cases for change. and erudite are all mechanics of communicating. and to gauge what they are thinking. concise. He is amiable. With respect to the actual ten traits of expressive leadership. “The character of a man is known from his conversations. His communications extend across a spectrum from userfriendly simplistic language to rich scholarly references. Obama presents as a polished enthusiast. personable. far from the usual droning of politicians. charming. He is clear and to the point. and likable. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon. indicating that mastery is important to him. One category would represent the more technical aspects of communicating—what you say—while the second category represents your delivery—how you say what you need to say. Obama communicates in well-constructed road maps complete with rationales and supporting data. learned. four. For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country.”11 What do Obama’s conversations tell us about his character? Obama is in the public eye frequently. perhaps more so than we have seen from a sitting president. above all. passionate. Think of the ten traits of expressive leadership as organized into the mechanics of expression and your expressive persona. address at Cairo University we can see the full spectrum of Obama’s expressive persona. He will organize new plans or policy directions into three. to understand. his thoughts are conveyed in a manner that seems logical and. In the following remarks the president captivates his global audience in a manner that negotiates multiple fine lines. As such he is creating the impression of accessibility and of determination. coherent. 2009. He is typically exceptionally well versed in his subject matter.Obama’s Vision Realized • Personable—having an appropriately favorable demeanor • Persuasive—able to make a compelling point • Interesting—provoking thought and/or holding others’ attention 85 Ancient Greek playwright Menander wrote. and interesting reflect your expressive persona. He is heard time and time again using the phrases “Let me be clear” and “Let me say that again” to emphasize key points. With respect to expressive persona. a genuineness as a human being. along with other qualities such as your appearance. He unties listeners away from their unilateral factions to their existence as humankind. Through his conversations he displays seriousness of character and strength of convictions along with warmth and playfulness. When a new flu infects one human being. prosperity is hurt everywhere.12 Obama’s expressive mechanics are spot-on. or five crisp summary points. He provokes our thoughts and holds our attention. the . When you read his writings or listen to him speak. think of them as divided into two categories. His town hall formats suggest a genuine desire to be in close touch with the people—to know. all are at risk. Being prepared. His preparation is complete. Being presentable. persuasive. Returning to excerpts from the president’s June 4.
So whatever we think of the past. explaining that to succeed in working together as a people we must first deal with the very issues that divide us. that is a stain on our collective conscience.14 Overall his speech to the Muslim world was in essence a well-blended balance of expressive mechanics and expressive persona where he demonstrated the full range of expressive traits. with poise. In the statements that followed the president took his audience through seven key issues that the global community must address together. and the Arab world The rights and responsibilities of nations regarding nuclear weapons Democracy Religious freedom The rights of women Economic development and opportunity. we must not be prisoners of it. diplomacy. it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. Given our interdependence. Obama met this test head-on. Through what he said and how he said it. it reflected a stellar example of expressive leadership. and professional speaking style to craft and deliver high-impact messages. Palestinians. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. Obama’s address at Cairo University is not to be underestimated. And so in that spirit. progress must be shared. persuasive. any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. and scholarship. and interesting. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains. passionate. The seven key issues referenced included: • • • • • • • Violent extremism in all forms The situation between Israelis. people are endangered across an ocean. such attitudes are self-defeating. Indeed. He did so with great command of his subject matter and in a manner that held each group accountable without alienation. As it was. accessible. He spoke candidly and from a firm knowledge base. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests.86 Right Brain/Left Brain President risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. doing . let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together. Yet in this new age. Obama’s remarks in this noted section of his address implore the masses to confront differences.13 In this passage from Obama’s landmark global address we see the president leverage his compelling. Through his expressive persona being presentable. Obama superbly managed a complex speaking trial. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. Obama walked us through a timeline of critical world events from economic crisis to the far-reaching consequences of inhumanity in order to encourage us to be one. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership. personable. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered. That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
step-by-step ability. As we move to the next left-brain guiding behavior. that of his expressive leadership. and the days that would follow—the planes. you were taken to that day. 2001. whether through formal speeches. It was Obama’s conveyance of September 11. and catapulted it to greater heights. even when melded with an interpersonal bond. Within his depiction we also see his human connection to the world’s tragic circumstance. . Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still . Obama’s multiple right.and left-brain leadership behaviors makes his effect all the more potent. Obama’s success in this effort was possible not only because of his expressive acumen but also because his speaking modeled the very collaboration he was asking for from his audience. The next hurdle is whether a leader can stand behind his words and feelings in how he is in fact experienced. the anguish and the fear. as is the case with his expressive flair.and left-brain leadership abilities came into play. passages in written works. like specters. the ash-covered figures wandering the streets. is leftbrain communicative command. His ability to draw from extensive behavioral breadth and depth took an already accelerated skill. Alluring throughout. Lastly we saw Obama’s tried and true engaging persona in the alignment of his words and his intent. While the president’s singular leadership behaviors are exemplary. we will explore how Obama’s words and emotions are in fact backed up by his stability and good-sense stewardship. yet another facet of his expressive capability. We saw strategic vision and innovation in how the address was put together as well as transformational fervor. press conferences. was perhaps stimulated. that the character of a man is known . a call for new paths forward. 15 Obama is a gifted writer. the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into themselves. or interviews. This convincing autobiographical account of the young Obama’s personal and professional journey is masterfully written. But words alone are not enough. If what Menander says is true. Through the president’s well-crafted address he drew from methodical. town hall dialogue. Dreams from My Father. In what we can hear from Obama overall. his ability to fluidly combine and leverage multiple right. vanishing into steel and glass. . It’s beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day. He demonstrated solid grounded traits through his composed credible nature. You felt its horror. He can communicate that intent in the most effective manner possible. one section in particular stands out in my mind. Obama’s intent is good. Complexly describing the moment in a vivid and compelling manner all his own. that of grounded leadership. He was assertive in his willingness to explicitly confront sensitive matters.Obama’s Vision Realized 87 so in such a way that a new direction. As a final example of Obama’s expressive ability we look to one of his own works. We also see a genuine right-brain relationship with his audiences. one of hope and commonality.
It is about the greater good and about visionary progress as reflected in sustained American ideals. “Nearly all men can stand adversity. and fair. consistency. —Barack Obama16 Obama has an extraordinary sense of responsibility. and stability. Obama has been compared in some respects to past president Abraham Lincoln. How a leader handles power will determine. Grounded: Responsible with a “Capitol” R But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times. Obama’s scorecard is not based on wins and losses.”17 How does President Obama display his power and what does that tell us about his character? Examining Obama in terms of grounded leadership traits will provide the answer. They themselves will feel valued. sensible. The guiding leadership behavior grounded is defined as acting with integrity. They will see you as respectable. Obama should be positioned for strong grounded leadership traits. How individuals handle power reflects their character. others will feel as though they are in fact safe. If you are a grounded leader. give him power. the ten traits of grounded leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Composed—able to control your emotions Approachable—having a manner that allows others to reach out to you Genuine—sincere Pragmatic—practical and realistic Cautious—sensible and careful Questioning—seeking assurances and/or getting to the bottom of issues Stable—steady and consistent in your views and approaches Loyal—committed to your people and responsibilities Established—having proven competence Trustworthy—able to be counted on . honest. but if you want to test his character. The Obama view of leadership is not a “do it my way” or “I know what’s best” perspective. It is based on responsibility to those who have entrusted him with the authority of his office. and to the many generations whose lives will be affected for the good or for the ill because of what we do here.88 Right Brain/Left Brain President from his conversations. how grounded a leader she is. to the men and women who sent us here. All leaders have power. authentic. It is about how others feel in your presence. to be the steward and the gauge. Can the leader be trusted? Is he viewed as stable? Does she make those around her feel as though they are in good hands? Lincoln would agree. both about you and about themselves. among other things. Looking more closely at what it means to be grounded. Lincoln once said. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves. first based on the very position they hold and then by virtue of how they set out to lead. poised. Grounded leadership is ultimately a matter of character.
2009. The first cluster represents initial impressions. Initially it appeared also that the government was blocking full view of the election controversy from the rest of the world.” further remarking that “it is up to the Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be. and established is he? Can we trust him to deliver on his promises? Relating the ten traits of grounded leadership to Obama.6 percent of the vote in his favor. how a leader responds to a given situation. Those discrepancies included actual numbers of votes recorded at certain polling places and the speed with which the election results were supposedly finalized (votes simply could not have been counted so quickly). Is she practical? Does she exercise good caution? Does she ask the right questions? The third cluster reflects a leader’s reputation over time. I . As further testament to Obama’s character it is noteworthy that the president. How composed. “To those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process. A charge of fraud was raised when incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner.” In an attempt to support the people of Iran. did not hold a press conference following this incident to glamorize the success of its resolution but rather put out a statement calling attention to the crew and to Captain Phillips’s bravery. a cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. One such example comes from Obama’s handling of the April 2009 Indian Ocean hostage situation. At that moment he exercised his power with discretion and not for his own self interest. How loyal. we see a leader whose hallmarks are equanimity and steadiness. and genuine is he? The second cluster represents a leader’s grounded actions.18 The president handled the matter in a serious and low-key fashion. He would therefore receive high marks on the traits composed and stable. approachable. 2009. An international outcry of injustice followed. What began as peaceful national protest grew to violence. who has been characteristically in the public eye. steady. Obama stated that he was “deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. Obama leveraged the resources at his disposal and acted with the needed command and authority. The president was appropriately cautious. how others experience a leader in the moment. with 62. the ship’s captain.Obama’s Vision Realized 89 The ten traits of grounded leadership can be organized into three clusters. A second incident comes to mind in terms of Obama’s composure and stability. was taken hostage. making certain that his decisions were sensible and careful as he worked to deal with a critical and highprofile situation. Obama was said to have worked discreetly and effectively with Defense Department factions to ultimately enable Navy Seals to rescue Captain Phillips. Obama said.19 Some considered Obama’s public statements too reserved. Richard Phillips. On June 12. the country of Iran held its tenth presidential election. Allegations of wrongdoing stemmed from the fact that former prime minister and candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s representatives were not permitted to join in the supervision of the election and that numerous inconsistencies existed in the overall process. On April 8. but to applaud others. While the crew was able to regain control of their ship.
or perhaps was he prudent and thoughtful. established. While we can look across Obama’s life to date and see little if any reason to doubt his allegiance. proven capability. Given the turbulent times of the Obama presidency. His authenticity is apparent. These are unusual times. Obama’s reliability. . With respect to the remaining three grounded traits.”20 Was Obama too moderate in his response. Obama is genuine. these are qualities that must withstand the test of time. finding the appropriate balance and focus. His reiterative point about the world watching may indicate that from his perspective. himself included. able to sort through the complexities of issues and with practical common sense identify what makes sense and what doesn’t. While some criticize him for taking on too much at once. the matter is being taken under serious advisement by many. That he has reached his present place in life clearly speaks to his record of accomplishment. His left-brain structure and stability—his vigilant nature—will step in over time to modulate the direction. Evaluations will be based on performance in each successive position. wherewithal. Obama is at ease socially and is a natural at helping others to feel comfortable in his presence. he is sensible and careful in his monitoring approaches. from where its people stand to the realities of its current leadership. In continuing to explore Obama’s grounded leadership traits. Such is the case because Obama is questioning. regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was . which explains the broad net he cast early on in his presidency. his steady hand will guide his decisions about whether to scale back. better to reflect on what this circumstance tells him about the whole of Iran. and in the president’s mind. And they should know that the world is watching. He is pragmatic. Certainly the fact that he has historically conducted himself as someone who can be counted on bodes well for him. with respect to the trait approachable. we must push hard to drive needed change. . regardless of past accomplishments. There is little we know that would . and temperament will be tested in countless ways. and rather than act in response to a singular event. and that everyone is on alert. loyal. He will rely on this trait. and integrity. His right-brain integrated mindset is disposed to seeing things holistically. highly adept at effective inquiry. he will need to prove himself as president. and in due course likely reset. taking in the accounts of this acutely disturbing matter and looking to sensibly integrate it into his strategy with Iran moving forward? Was he displaying sound interplay between immediate left-brain reaction and a right-brain fullscope approach? Obama’s right brain was seeing the complexities of Iran’s world circumstance. such is especially the case. Obama’s statements are those of a grounded leader who draws from a dynamic interplay between strategic thinking and ultimate assertive response.90 Right Brain/Left Brain President would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation. It appears that as the work unfolds. will be judged relative to steadfastness. Any leader. and trustworthy. In his new role as president.
approachable. You may even see words like pushy. duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly. and questioning he is. Being strong and self-assured. It is necessary to leverage one’s . Attacking without provocation. and genuine. his initial impressions. Assertive leadership would not include a Machiavellian perspective wherein ends justify the means. our nation and the world. disrespect. from methodical or systematic to expressive. to be an assertive leader is to be upfront. Regarding his reputation. assertive. and his reputation over time. how pragmatic. It is important to be outspoken and take charge. True Assertive What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility. on the part of every American. brazen. Similarly. to act with resolve. The nature of Obama’s assertiveness will be pivotal in what he is ultimately able to accomplish. so defining of our character. In evaluating Obama’s grounded facility by the clustering traits. inflicting harshness. —Barack Obama21 If you look up the word assertive you will note descriptors such as forcefully strong and self-assured. in all. would all be considered part of that leadership definition. driving hidden agendas. Assertive leadership may also at times require that one be aggressive. In the language of the right brain/left brain leadership model. able to communicate to grounded. firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit. or inhumane. cautious.” That is one way to describe assertive leadership. a recognition. Still. what could be said is that Obama makes a solid initial impression. and insolent. With respect to his grounded actions. that we have duties to ourselves. displaying the character factor. He most often seems composed. we come to the final left-brain behavior. Obama’s impact in this respect will have to withstand the test of time. aggressive. It is crucial to see plans through to fruition. even brazen. acting from arrogance. All evidence to date tells us he will come through these aspects of grounded leadership well. and determined to get the desired results. but the times and context will certainly try him. As we move through the four left-brain guiding leadership behaviors. direct. we also find noted strong suits. so to speak. than giving our all to a difficult task. if what we mean by those terms is to act boldly or willing to make the first move. Your simple gut check for assertiveness run amok is whether or not your behavior is devaluing. Running over the top of others or doing the work for them are rather ineffective leadership stances.Obama’s Vision Realized 91 call into question that he is in fact an honorable man. his grounded actions. perhaps even pushy. we must wait and see how this new president fares. or volatility would also be excluded from this leadership view of assertive actions. What is truly assertive with respect to leadership? Obama’s previously referenced quote relays the phrase “giving our all to a difficult task. micromanaging would be considered contrary to true assertiveness. dishonest.
To see Obama as assertive. required continuous shifting on Obama’s part between right-brain transformational and engaging traits along with left-brain assertive ones. as such. and how we are viewed. education. The president’s more specific goals and policy directions then flowed from these three overarching necessities and. To return the United States to its constitutional foundation—to be a nation. The ten traits of assertive leadership are: • • • • • • • • • • Purposeful—determined and deﬁnite in your goals Conﬁdent—assured about your capability to reach desired goals Tenacious—unrelenting Driven—staying determined to reach goals and get results Delegating—able to assign and resource the work appropriately Decisive—able to make sound decisions Courageous—willing to face challenges and diﬃculties Candid—upfront and direct Confrontational—able to work through a conﬂict Closure-seeking—seeing things through and pushing for conclusions In essence. Complicating matters further was the persistent maneuvering taking place by those who were desperate to regain lost political ground. some indicated that they needed Obama to levy the full weight of his power to silence the opposition and bring needed change. this group brought fierce tactics to bear in their attempts to undermine Obama. . placed added layers of intricacy on the cascading objectives. getting the job done but getting it done well while valuing those around you is what real assertive leadership is all about. The challenge is to do so in a manner that upholds the core values of your charge and the basic dignity of others. To restore faith here and abroad in our public and private systems and leadership factions. the preference for some was for Obama to simplify his direction and demand closure on certain items that would bring immediate relief. At this burdened time.92 Right Brain/Left Brain President scope of power to the fullest.” 2. This broader scope. as our constitution states “by the people and for the people. how we function. To ﬁx Washington—move it from perpetual campaign mode back to governing mode. when the nation’s problems continued to hit close to home for all too many citizens. 3. along with foundational factors that drive who we are. Centering their ploys on the health care debate. and terrorism. health care. one with direct strategic underpinnings. Obama’s resolve seems to emanate from three target imperatives: 1. To be purposeful is to be clear about what you are setting out to accomplish. He had positioned himself to tend both to policy items like the economy. Assertive leadership begins with a sense of purpose. Let us see how President Obama fares with respect to this key behavior.
more truthful. perhaps we need to become more sensible and. His delegating style is reflected in the value he places on teamwork. confronta tional. the rescue of Captain Phillips. that our thinking has been at best incomplete and at worst downright flawed. Would we be willing to entertain new definitions. confidence not simply in himself.22 The remaining five assertive traits. In carrying out what has been recognized as backstage and quiet leadership. not months or years. Our semantics around assertive leadership may in fact begin to shift. decisive. Citing once again the April 2009 incident. the president worked collaboratively with both federal law enforcement and the military to effect his role as commander in chief in securing the safe return of the cargo ship’s captain. The first five assertive traits. to move progressively and patiently as multiple aspects come together? Could tenacity also be described as doing what is needed to drive overall efficiency and effectiveness? Only time will tell if Obama can reshape public sentiment in this manner.Obama’s Vision Realized 93 Because of these circumstances. comprise foundational assertive leadership. you may be inclined to fashion a new yardstick. the president worked appropriately behind the scenes on a plan that in decisive . If we reexamine Obama’s purpose from his perspective. that of foundational assertive traits—those that enable a leader to set initiatives in motion—and reactive assertiveness—how well a leader deals with matters along the way. it can in fact be viewed in two parts. candid. are referred to collectively as reactive assertive leadership. and closure seeking. We are a culture driven by immediacy of reward and quick fixes. For now it seems that there are several discrepant notions causing Obama to be misrepresented here. His tenacity can be seen in the tone of his administration. though. a value poignantly evidenced in his handling of his first national security crisis. more to the point. One need only look to his success at going from a young African American community organizer to historic forty-fourth president of the United States of America to note his drive. He carries himself with confidence. Tenacity in this sense would seem to mean someone able to come out swinging and make an impact in days. are our expectations realistic? Obama’s plight may be telling us that if we in fact do seek such safety. Returning to our understanding of assertive leadership. assertive leadership was and is perhaps where Obama suffers his greatest criticisms. If. Does he take on too much? Can he move from words to action? Where is the change? Is he tough enough? The longerrange and matrixlike fashion from which Obama operates is different than what we are used to. and delegating. purposeful. We have become gluttonous in how we view success. courageous. As such they mark a leader’s ability to address issues and push where necessary to drive for conclusions. what we are really asking for is security and an end to our fears. tenacious. by the sheer magnitude of what they are willing to take on and by the many daily markers of progress. driven. but in the nation’s ability to prevail. confident. of what it means to be tough? Could a description of tenacious move from ramming things through to able to go the distance. Obama’s purpose is clear. for example.
Right Brain/Left Brain President
fashion, he authorized, resulting in a successful mission. With respect to his courage, Obama takes strong positions and faces challenges at home and abroad. At his memorable June 4, 2009, Cairo University speech, the president made these remarks concerning the threat of terrorism:
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not—and never will be—at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people. The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.23
Courageous words the president expressed regarding arduous circumstances that must be addressed, matters that will not be tolerated, and injustices that will be settled. Assertive language by the president on the home front can be noted during a March 17, 2009, press conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, as Obama responded to Republican criticisms of the budget.
“Just say no” is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to what our economic policies propose by the other party . . . what we need in Washington are not more political tactics, we need more good ideas. We don’t need more point scoring, we need more problem solving. So if there are members of Congress who object to specific policies and proposals in this budget, then I ask them to be ready and willing to propose constructive alternative solutions. If certain aspects of this budget people don’t think work, provide us some ideas in terms of what you do. . . . The American people sent us here to get things done.24
Obama demonstrates a unique brand of assertive tact in that he faces difficulties by calling for the germane conversations. The nature of his assertiveness also
Obama’s Vision Realized
reflects appropriately candid and confrontational actions in that he cuts through the politics to get us to the heart of the matter. In his April 14, 2009, address at Georgetown University Obama noted,
For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day. There’s been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems. There is also an impatience that characterizes this town—an attention span that has only grown shorter with the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and insists on instant gratification in the form of immediate results or higher poll numbers. When a crisis hits, there’s all too often a lurch from shock to trance, with everyone responding to the tempest of the moment until the furor has died away and the media coverage has moved on, instead of confronting the major challenges that will shape our future in a sustained and focused way.25
In these two examples, the first in which the president demands that objections be backed by alternate ideas and the second where he distinguishes the politics from the actual work, we see more clearly Obama’s brand of assertiveness. Companioned with frequent right-brain style shifts Obama reflects back on strategic intent, seeks to ensure a continuous flow of innovation into the solution pipeline, tends progressively to the evolutionary change process, and works to engage an ever-so-resistant audience. Are you ready yet to rethink your position on what it means to be assertive? Given the full-spectrum manner in which the president leads along with the complexities of his administration’s charge, it seems perhaps premature to expect that his actions be more closure seeking at this juncture. Put another way, with respect to assertiveness, the president is showing strong indicators of foundational assertive traits. He is determined in his goals, assured in capability, unrelenting, and good at resourcing the work. On many fronts he has shown sound reactive assertiveness as well. He is resolute, willing to face difficulties, direct, and good at working through conflicts. He has seen many initiatives through and will no doubt, in time and with a balance of right- and left-brain blended skill sets, move the meter on his additional, bigger-ticket items as well.
Right Brain / Left Brain Summary
As each of the eight right- and left-brain guiding leadership behaviors have now been covered, we see the richness in leadership impact when these total brain behaviors work in consort. Obama leads from the right, affording a fertile starting point from which his equally capable left brain can then bring aspirations to life. While most if not all high-level leaders are to some extent multidominant, it is rare to find someone who is hardwired to act in such an integral manner. What you would instead find are leaders who rather constrict their multidominance, especially under
Right Brain/Left Brain President
stress. Obama, under stress, accelerates multidominance because it is so firmly a part of his nature. Two final guiding leadership behaviors are left to review. They are called the Plus Factors because they add to right- and left-brain success. Accessed properly, they can help drive right- and left-brain strong suits to greater levels. How will President Obama fare with respect to these pivotal leadership determinants? How do the president’s resilient and savvy traits contribute to his right- and left-brain leadership success?
Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential. It is about how you modulate both your physical and psychological energy.”2 How does one accomplish this. have the view of looking in. To make the case. but because of their pivotal role in leadership effectiveness. Being resilient positions you to tap fully into your true potential. Resilience is critical to your sense of accomplishment and well-being. beginning with his resilience. stamina. let us examine how the Plus Factors contribute to the president ’s efficacy. they demand concerted attention. Resilient Energy Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. “get used up”? It’s all a matter of balance. The Plus Factors can be mistakenly overlooked in a leader’s development thinking. resilient and savvy. — Barack Obama 1 The Plus Factor resilient addresses how well you are able to deal with difficult times and stretch yourself beyond existing capabilities.Chapter 6 Obama and the Plus Factors: Sealing the Deal The Plus Factors. and mindset — your internal fortitude. you are more likely to feel satisfied. in Schweitzer’s language. Physical energy encompasses your health and fitness. focusing on what you need to know to tend to yourself. Albert Schweitzer remarked. It . “A great success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. These two guiding behaviors are rightand left-brain enhancing and have direct bearing on how well you will execute the other eight behaviors. to go through life and never. It asks too little of yourself. When you are at your best physically and mentally. Resilient leadership is defined as possessing the optimal physical and mental functioning. Psychological energy is somewhat more complex.
wellness. and how you ultimately react. Still others may name those known for heroic acts or extraordinary accomplishment. physical readiness. Others would think of activists who have sacrificed and taken on great personal hardship to advance a cause. accountable to a greater good • Physically ﬁt — practicing sound lifestyle habits. aware of and managing your health • Fulﬁlled — feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about your life • Relaxed — able to decompress from stress • Environmental — making nature a part of your personal and professional development Positive Thinking. how you reach conclusions.1 shows the complete Energy Model mapped to the traits of resilient leadership.98 Right Brain / Left Brain President is about your outlook. block out distractions. Figure 6. Compare the model specifics to the following traits of resilient leadership: • Positive — having constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities • Emotionally sound — able to cope with stress and diﬃculties as demonstrated by your behavior • Clear thinking—able to sort through confusions. and a mindset oriented toward success. Who comes to mind for you when you think of being resilient? Some would cite individuals with exceptional physical and mental skill and endurance — Olympic athletes. your thought process. Obama-Style Energy initiation is driven by the resilient trait positive. To initiate your energy you need momentum. and rejuvenation 3 Each of the ten resilient traits support one or more of these features. and think freely • Tolerant — accepting of diﬀerences • Flexible — able to adjust or accommodate when necessary • Spiritual — seeing beyond yourself to how you contribute in a broader sense. your constructive focus on opportunities and possibilities. Obama has certainly joined the ranks of those known for extraordinary accomplishment. for example. To be positive your body . The Energy Model In the model for right brain/left brain leadership we think of energy in terms of having three defining features: • Initiation — how we activate and motivate ourselves • Funneling — what we do and how we do it • Recovery — our health. In all groups we would find individuals who are resilient in large part because of their ability to effectively leverage multiple aspects of energy.
Physical activation occurs in part as the natural process of waking and moving about. How the candidates were able to initiate their energy contributed to their staying power. giving speeches. He was.” and yes they did.S. Obama moved through the transition phase of his appointment with the same optimistic mindset. your attitude set in optimistic mode. How you then view the day ahead is another key element to accelerating optimum energy. day after day. Next.1 Energy Model for Traits of RESILIENT Leadership must be poised to act. That presidential campaign was a long and hard-fought battle. as president-elect. presidential race had such thoughts. Throughout that campaign we saw in Obama a positive presidential hopeful. after all. deep breaths and light stretching upon rising can enhance the process.Obama and the Plus Factors 99 Figure 6. As blood circulation increases our bodies wake and mobilize. Have you ever watched national campaigns unfold and asked yourself how the candidates keep going. Slow. smiling with confidence that they will be elected? Certainly those of us watching the 2008 U. shaking hands. Throughout his first year . armed with the slogan “yes we can.
Right Brain/Left Brain President
in office, amid tenuous times, he remained encouraging. To date he continues to be constructively upbeat. While there are many things in life we can’ t control, thankfully our attitude is one we can —“yes we can.” A positive frame of mind from a leadership standpoint is to welcome challenges and stay focused on opportunities, on the future, on hope. Brazilian teacher, philosopher and activist Paulo Freire has been known as one of the most influential educators of our time, referenced here for his fervor concerning joy and hope. For Freire, living through joy in the present and hope in what lies ahead positions us for success. In his book Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, Freire writes, “In truth, from the point of view of the human condition, hope is an essential component and not an intruder . . . Hope is a natural, possible, and necessary impetus in the context of our unfinishedness. Hope is an indispensible seasoning in our human historical experience. Without it, instead of history we would have pure determinism . . . A future that is inexorable is a denial of history.”4 Freire’s lifework was with the oppressed and impoverished. Hope was primal to emancipation. Joy in our humanity and hope in our prospects paved the way for advancement, for new heights. Interestingly, for Freire, through hope one becomes not clouded by rose-colored glasses but rather more open-minded to the full spectrum of circumstances. Hope encourages our willingness to critique, to question, and to denounce what is unjust in order to move toward ultimate fairness. It is by shoring ourselves up with what is possible that we can more readily face our existing shortcomings. Obama too is a champion of hope. Captivated by the phrase and sermon of his preacher on “the audacity of hope,” Obama’s campaign reflected this inspiration, that from hope we can better scrutinize our current dissatisfactions. On hope Obama said, “Hope — hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”5 In Freire-like fashion, to be positive is to hold joy as one of life’s most precious commodities. It is a “life’s simple pleasures ” frame of mind that Obama first learned from his mother, carried forth to how he captions his life today. For Obama as for Freire, there is joy in the here and now and aspiration in what is to come. Complacency and despair have no place. Obama is above all positive in what we can and should seek. His right-brain charismatic and motivational traits along with his left-brain personable nature are rooted in this resilient trait, that of a positive spirit. Similarly, his innovative playfulness and transformational openness to learning are primed by his positive hopeful approach.
What He Does and How He Does It
Soon after Obama took office he began appointing his cabinet. News was breaking that Hillary Clinton was to be named secretary of state. Media sharks were
Obama and the Plus Factors
smelling blood in the water. At a press conference one reporter provocatively questioned the president about negative references he made about Clinton during the campaign, in particular about her foreign policy inexperience. The president smiled, looked at the reporter, and laughingly said something to the effect of, “You like to have fun with this, don’t you?”6 His comment composed him and put the audience in check. He made additional comments about Clinton’s fit for the job. The case was closed. Energy funneling speaks to our interactions and approaches. How well we funnel our energy is determined first and foremost by how emotionally sound we are. How well we cope with stress and difficulties, how stable and even-tempered we remain in the face of adversity, is what we look for in determining if someone is emotionally sound. Few would deny that Obama handles stress remarkably well. At each juncture of the campaign, when the heat was on Obama became calmer. In the later stages of the process, during a presidential debate Obama’s Republican opponent was showing signs of wear, referring to Obama as “that one” during an exchange. Obama smiled and let the remark pass while his promoters turned the competitor’s phrase into a bumper sticker. This is a man not easily rattled. Obama seems to offer up a sound array of coping skills to counter life’s stresses. Obama’s stress-resistant demeanor is additive to his left-brain grounded traits of composed and approachable along with his left-brain assertive traits confident, courageous, and candid. Given Obama’s adjustment skills he is better able to control his emotions, and it affords him the position of continuing to reach out to others even during the most contested of times. Obama’s ability to cope with stress can likewise afford him assurance in the heat of the moment. He can act with audacity and frankness ( yes he can) as he insists on a path forward. When, for example, the pressure was on Obama to make Wall Street gains the focus of his attention to right the economy, Obama flatly and courteously replied that Wall Street fluctuations alone were not driving his planning, that he had a broader view in mind. A less emotionally sound leader could have been unnerved by such a highprofile demand and perhaps either lashed out or sought to appease to deflect the pressure. Obama’s clear thinking, his ability to sort through confusions, block out distractions, and think freely, seems linked to his propensity for reflection. When you listen to Obama speak you note a thought flow with apparent embedded organization, with a nucleus and cell-like structure generated from it. The structure catches your attention. It is intricate, yet well formed and simply constructed. Such a thought process, especially coming from someone with so much on his plate, is indicative of both a complex thinker as well as someone who seemingly thrives on distilling involved views into straightforward concepts. Yet another aspect of Obama’s clear thinking is his ability to sort through apparent communication noise. Noise is a term in interpersonal communications theory defined as anything that interferes with the transmission of a message.
Right Brain/Left Brain President
Political environments are replete with noise. Noise is what powers the political engine. The more one side can obscure the other’s, the better chance they have of winning the contest of the moment. To think clearly, a leader has to be able to recognize noise and not be thrown by it. The leader must continue, in spite of the chatter, to think freely. Obama’s stress-resistant armor affords him the inclination to thwart the gnats buzzing incessantly around him. He is able to remain centered and to stay his course. On the noise of politics Obama commented, “Most people who serve in Washington have been trained either as lawyers or as political operatives — professions that tend to place a premium on winning arguments rather than solving problems.”7 At the 200th-day mark of his presidency Obama heard a round of criticisms concerning the many issues his administration was taking on, as well as the cost that such a charter would generate. Sorting through criticisms of this nature is an example of how his clear thinking was tested. Information was coming in from all sides, from media factions, from his Republican opponents, from his own party, and from citizen polls. Obama did not react to the disapproval with a sweeping change of course. He most probably contemplated it in broad right-brain fashion and then applied left-brain analytics, dissecting the situation from all sides as he continued forward. For a clear thinker, information is taken in and culled in open-minded fashion for its best use. Polarized thinkers, on the other hand, are those who have a particular view in mind and hear only that which supports their view. Yet another group, the so-called political thinkers, are those who simply shift to follow the resulting tides. Obama is a clear thinker. Clear thinking as an aspect of resilience affords a leader the best possible path to effective solutions. Clear thinking means that you are attuned to and understand information that is available to you and from which you draw sound conclusions. Two additional aspects of energy funneling are the traits tolerant and flexible. Being tolerant and flexible allows you to function from a greater range, accepting differing perspectives, willing to accommodate or adapt when necessary. Obama’s hardwired values for broad-mindedness, his apparent acceptance of others, and his adaptability to contexts come from the mindsets of those who raised him and the circumstances of his upbringing. Obama appears welcoming of diverse perspectives and, more importantly, seems matter-of-fact concerning differences, meaning that he seems to view heterogeneity as a given in life. Such an individual would spend little energy resisting what is different. Instead he would give his attention to understanding it. With respect to the final aspect of energy funneling, the spiritual sense of a leader, spiritual in this sense speaks to a greater accountability and purpose, that as a leader you are here to contribute not only to your work, but to the greater good. The Obama quote earlier in this chapter reads, “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.
relaxed ( how you decompress and unwind ). think only .”8 Through this inspiration. Energy recovery also looks at your overall longevity. An additional statement from Obama further reinforces his spiritual inclination: “Faith is not just something you have. the steelworker who’s been laid off. With respect to being physically fit. psychology professes certain indicators of satisfaction. The development of one ’ s energy recovery is somewhat subjective. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — the ability to put ourselves in someone else’ s shoes. It is especially vital to those with literally the weight of the world on their shoulders. In the final quote regarding the president ’s spiritual leadership trait. and rejuvenation. and environmental ( your connection to nature). Recharging the Energy Battery No matter how many times I see photographs of the progression of a president through his tenure. the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. fulfilled ( how satisfied you are with your life ). They are physically fit ( your health and habits). and to assist us. the resilient trait spiritual is about the responsibility of a leader to work always in service to others. how each president has aged. When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others. He cites empathy as a necessary yet often neglected aspect of how to truly make a difference: You know. wellness. yet certain practices apply. it’s something you do. to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry. Recuperating from stress can be challenging. things that promote overall good health and beneficial lifestyle approaches are specified in the medical and wellness literature. Energy recovery is critical to all leaders. Four resilient traits comprise energy recovery. With respect to the trait environmental. Obama addresses the impetus that empathy (understanding others from their perspective) can provide. Energy recovery looks at your health. Regarding how fulfilled we are.”9 In this statement the president speaks to the need to act from and on our beliefs. I find it startling. harder not to help. meaning a range of methods can net similar results. It looks at short-term renewal — how you recover throughout the day or at the end of a long week.Obama and the Plus Factors 103 Because it ’ s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.10 For Obama. Obama conveys his spiritual propensity. there ’ s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act. varied measures are available that help us to be relaxed.
What. That’s my main form of relaxation. He also spent four years as a young child in Indonesia. One can only assume that to have accomplished what he has was a good thing for Obama. . awe-inspiring feeling that comes over us when in the presence of nature’s grandeur to note how such a connection contributes to our energy recovery. nothing is better at pulling you out of your world than having a couple of children. and rejuvenation? Regarding how physically fit he is. 2009. In a June 1. the president made this reply to Webb ’s question concerning how. He is an avid basketball player and purports to eat healthy foods and snacks. is a champion of physical fitness. And so we’ve got.12 First Lady Michelle Obama made it a priority to plant a vegetable garden in the White House yard to reinforce and model the Obamas’ wellness orientation.”11 He subscribes to a rigorous exercise regime. is also one that is strong for Obama. I think a very good deal. He was featured in the November 2008 twentieth anniversary collector’s edition of Men’s Health magazine as one of the “20 Heroes of Health and Fitness.13 In this excerpt you hear a satisfied man with treasured family support as his primary means of dealing with the stresses of his charge. In terms of how well Obama is able to recuperate from the massive stress he is under. On the negative side. the president has smoked but appears committed to winning the battle against that demon. he points to his loving marriage and family life as his greatest ally on that front. if not beyond. a setting of breathtaking environmental landscape amid a culture tied closely to nature. Obama is known to be in top physical shape. and they ’re planning pool parties and talking about homework and trying to figure out how to get the dog back on the leash . Obama. wellness. how he can relax. He seems to be at. Obama was raised beachside in Hawaii. With respect to the resilient trait fulfilled. environmental. and I’m grateful that I’ve got such a wonderful wife and kids. As such he grew up satiated with environmental images that are now no doubt second nature–accessible to his brain. interview at the White House with BBC correspondent Justin Webb. I mean one of the huge benefits of being president is I now have a nice home office. So I’ve got a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old. Obama seems thrilled to be in his current role. and I go upstairs and I can have dinner with my family just about every night. and they can travel with me when they’re able. where he aspired to be and in a position to make the greatest impact of his life. but also serves to expediently discharge stress. he relaxes: Well. then. The final resilient trait. a place with very different and striking environmental imagery. though. To be connected to the physical world in this . In addition to family support. given all that must be weighing on him. . Most if not all who occupy the Oval Office would have to subscribe to some form of exercise to meet the physically and mentally taxing demands of their position. do we know about the president with respect to health.104 Right Brain/Left Brain President of the undeniable. Obama’s physical workout routine not only promotes good health.
As such it is our external focus.”16 Savvy as defined in the Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model. It’s nice to take a break from the goings-on in Washington. Savvy leadership traits are: • Astute — perceptive concerning people and circumstances • Diplomatic — using tact in your sensitive interactions . . here in Montana you’ve got bears and moose and elk. but he seems on solid ground. — Barack Obama14 Negotiating political landscapes and influencing key stakeholders can be a daunting task. stating. . in Belgrade. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are affiliated with— your external influence. “Well. what we need to attend to concerning the world in which we operate. Obama’s environmental connection is sure to play a role in his overall stable temperament. 2009.and left-brain leadership effectiveness. is the ability to sense and respond appropriately to cultural climates. Montana. How savvy you are will determine how in control you are of your image.”15 This noted philosopher’s perspective sums up the importance of savvy to any leader.” he will also need to continuously address the complications generated by an overplayed political machine. The final guiding leadership behavior. climate in his opening remarks at a town hall meeting on August 14. “Man is by nature a political animal. After all. politics. It helps us to be accountable to our planet. In concluding this section on the guiding leadership behavior resilient we recognize Obama for certain distinct buoyancies that will aid and support his right. Aristotle’s point could not be more fitting. Savvy 101 But challenging as they are it’s not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. a fitting capstone for someone in Obama ’ s political context.C. it is the smallness of our politics. Aristotle once remarked. We can more easily decompress and regain our center.Obama and the Plus Factors 105 way breeds into one’ s thinking a perspective of our own place in a vast universe. Obama poked fun at the supercharged competitive D. is next. And in Washington. The president has assumed office at a time that will no doubt test his energy recovery to the maximum. you just have mostly bull. with multiple rejuvenation strong suits. I’m thrilled to have a chance to spend some time with the folks in this beautiful state. He must act with consummate savoir faire. Obama exists in an environment that is political to excess. it is nice to be back. It helps us to connect spiritually and to look at our position in the world in terms of what we truly can and can’t control. For Obama. savvy. Given Obama’s concerns about what he refers to in the preceding quote as the “smallness of . Through environmental triggers we are apt to pause and breathe in order to take it all in.
On the importance of concentration Obama said. Awareness. as he examines contexts and perspectives. views. exists also as a three-legged stool. Being astute begins with concentration. Being astute contributes to the right-brain ability to read between the lines and to left-brain analytics. I always believe that ultimately. diplomatic. like savvy itself. The second savvy source is power. Politicians can typically come across as tactful to a fault. what you know or sense. making sense of it all. or involvements • Promotive — eﬀectively lobbying for your and others’ issues and recognition • Assimilating — able to integrate into groups. then we get good government and good leadership. Fundamental Awareness The first initiator of savvy is awareness.17 Obama seems to indicate here that being perceptive — paying attention. The first is awareness. and timely. To be diplomatic requires tact in your sensitive interactions. Obama’s receptors leave him well poised to sense nuances. He approaches things with the help of a sensitive antenna. noting fine appreciations of the issues at hand. impressions that are formed and shaped about you and what you are trying to accomplish.106 Right Brain/Left Brain President • Timely — aware of the right moment to make a point or deal with an issue • Subtle — able to work indirectly to inﬂuence people and situations • Culturally oriented — grounded in the culture of your group or organization and acting from that knowledge in how you inﬂuence those within that culture • Networking — developing personal and professional relationships that are mutually beneﬁcial • Coalition building—bringing together those who share your causes. Obama is astute. Obama’s brand of tact seems rooted in a delicate appreciation of fine distinctions. consisting of the following: • How well you know yourself • How accurate you are in understanding how others see you • How well you understand others and the world around you The savvy traits that help drive awareness are astute. as he calls it — to people and circumstances is an important starting point. The final foundational element of savvy is perception. teams. It facilitates both intuitive insight and detailed scrutiny. cultural and otherwise. if people are paying attention. or cultures • Visible — being regularly seen There are three key determinants of savvy. He is attending to his surroundings. Power is defined as the capacity to influence. in an artful grasp of the complexities . both of which Obama appears to possess.
at its worst moments. honest. Montana. That’s how democracy ’s supposed to work. didn’t believe it could be done. Politically motivated sabotage of ideas and facts seemed to be plaguing the dialogue. health care touches all of our lives in a profound way. While being more astute makes it possible for you to develop better awareness. Everywhere — everywhere across the country you’ re seeing people who are coming together and having a civil. . and much political posturing was taking place. Some were downright skeptical. indicating in this passage that health care reform is an important and personal matter. He waited for the right moments and settings to convey his . rather than make separate reactive declarations. Some were big supporters of health insurance reform. they were there to listen and to ask questions.Obama and the Plus Factors 107 that sensitive matters are laden with. Some had concerns and questions. The health care reform debate had at this point escalated to. Earlier this week. Obama’s timely inclinations are evident in how he tends to infuse his positions into statements that he makes along the way. cultural. stressing the need to talk through disagreements productively.18 Obama begins most of his diplomatic messages with a validation or acknowledgment. he is discerning about the climate of discussions. being more diplomatic and timely shows the ability to act from that awareness. He then attempts to rebalance the conversation. A few thousand people showed up. Obama’s diplomatic side was also in evidence during his address at Cairo University. and emotional disconnects. loves a ruckus. often difficult conversation about how we can improve the system.V.V. I held a town hall in New Hampshire. I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country. T. making direct attempts to encourage a more positive tenor. The discussions were wearing on. At the same town hall meeting in Belgrade. Obama does this by setting a new tone. as Obama does. especially when tempers flare. Obama did not respond at each and every juncture. Now. Obama will also tend to let discussion occur rather than curtail it prematurely. What you haven’t seen on T. As such. And I want to thank you for coming here today in that spirit. . that also makes this debate an emotional one. and what makes me proud are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country. His focus is on providing an accurate perspective. where he had to tend diplomatically to old wounds and pronounced social. That reflects America a lot more than what we’ve seen covered on television for the last few days. Obama had this to say: . unfortunate ugly spectacles. Obama displayed his brand of diplomacy in teeing up his discussion of the contentious matter of health care reform in America. Health care reform is a case in point. But I was glad to see that people were there not to shout. that the sensational outcomes we are watching on television in fact reflect only one skewed outcome of the full debate. to be open to learning along the way.
one who seeks to work collaboratively and collectively. You are a heroic mom. So we are grateful to you. recognizing fine distinctions as Obama does. One’s power is enhanced by the savvy traits subtle. as Obama does. A leader who networks more broadly. the president opened his remarks to the woman with this statement: First of all. In that sense he is more of a gentle giant. but also to gain their perspective as well as their buy-in. Power and Inﬂuence Power is the capacity to influence. Recognizing the nuanced culture of parents of children with special needs. He recognizes and validates cultural groups naturally. and opportunism make it more likely for Obama to develop and act from better awareness and therefore for his savvy acumen to benefit in kind. as follows: .19 This is a small. His method is indicative of a belief in networking as an opportunity not only to communicate directly with various constituencies. tact. and your son’s lucky. She began relating her story about caring for a child with special needs and the concerns she had about health care. culturally oriented. is hoping to leverage forms of influence beyond positional authority. The overall point to make about Obama and awareness is that the strong suits he possesses in terms of insight. through town hall forums and ultimately. He is able to work indirectly to influence people and situations. yet important example of Obama’s adeptness at cultural recognition. town hall meeting a mother was handed a microphone so that she could ask a question. his savvy is enhanced appreciably. Buy-in is an interesting consideration when examining how one uses one’s power. His rise to the top was experienced in such a manner. All that he is and knows engenders in him respect for and appreciation of what distinguishes us. As a result of Obama’s background and key influences. Positional authority or legitimate power is only one of six bases of power. and coalition building. up from the simplest of beginnings but a steadily building tide that eventually amassed into a formidable presence. Such can be seen in his use of town hall meetings as an outreach format.108 Right Brain/Left Brain President reasoning. At the same Belgrade. Obama’s more unassuming style lends itself to aspects of subtlety. in a formal address to Congress in which he directly called out the lines in the debate process that had been crossed. When a leader views his interactions through such a well-honed cultural lens. thank you for sharing your story. a team-minded leader. Inclusive networking is a key approach for Obama. Embedded in his acknowledgment of this woman is the detection of her special circumstance and affiliation. Montana. networking. Networking is the next aspect of savvy that contributes to a leader’s ability to influence more effectively. Obama is keenly culturally oriented.
so if it hadn’t been for the nonviolent movement in India. it would probably be a really small meal because —( laughter)— he didn’t eat a lot. You know. He influences through information and expertise. Ultimately successful in that the election was won against all odds. address shows an overarching aspect of Obama’s perspective on power. and expert power are accessed as well. He is also captivating and thereby able to put forth referent power as a matter of course. Leaders who rather rely on the upper part of the continuum tend to get buy-in that is only as good as the enforcement in place to back up compliance. The president went before students in Wakefield. and he — and what was interesting was that he ended up doing so much and changing the world just by the power of his ethics. by his ability to change how people saw each other and saw themselves — and help . Obama is an ingrained user of persuasive and expert power. He inspired César Chávez. views. The president replied. Through carefully constructed messages and mediums he was able to unite people across demographics to work toward common causes. In other words. or involvements. Looking to how his campaign was constructed we can see his proclivity in this regard. 2009. An interesting excerpt from a September 8. Virginia. He inspired Dr. King.Obama and the Plus Factors • • • • • • Reward — the ability to provide something that others value Coercive — the ability to set limits or reprimands Legitimate — authority by virtue of one’s position Persuasive — possessing and using information to convince Referent — inﬂuence derived from being admired Expert — possessing speciﬁc skills. who is a real hero of mine. Now. They will make use of rewards and limit setting and they will exercise the weight of their rank. you might not have seen the same nonviolent movement for civil rights here in the United States. Hand-in-hand with Obama’s networking style is his affinity for bringing people together who share causes. They typically do not appreciate the value of full-throttle power whereby persuasive. to inspire the start of the new school year. Following his remarks was a question and answer period during which a student asked the president who he would select to have dinner with if he could do so with anyone now or in history. These latter forms of influence are in reality more potent as they result in sustainable impacts. or expertise 20 109 Leaders less inclined to work through far-reaching networks will tend to stay within the confines of the first three bases of power. I think that it might be Gandhi. But he’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. knowledge. referent. The last aspect of power as an accelerant of savvy is the trait coalition building. one would have to acknowledge Obama for the coalition builder that he is. Today in his presidency he is using multiple forums and technologies at his disposal to reach out and connect the masses while working through his administration team to address Washington divisions. leaders who work through the full continuum of power create change that becomes internalized to all concerned.
it will be realized. perception. And that’s somebody that I’d love to sit down and talk to. So I’m always interested in people who are able to bring about change. it is easy to find two individuals whose understandings differ. not through violence. what some will stoop to in order to shape perceptions into their way of thinking. constructing perceptions to support a given position. and how different are perceptions from one individual or one faction to the next? Obama promotes through knowledge. for example. When being promotive we effectively lobby for issues and recognition. then. Notice his promotive tone. 2009. In politics. but over time will such a person in fact win the war? This view of savvy leadership says yes. On any given day and for any given issue. but through the force of their personality and their ethical and moral stances. is it about perception that will foster true savvy versus hyperpolitical savvy? We look to the traits promotive. political or otherwise. then that’s not a really good exercise of power. In addition to promoting through knowledge.21 Power for Obama is undoubtedly about the ability to make substantive contributions. assimilating. Desired change may take longer. and then help people who had a lot of power realize that if all they ’ re doing is oppressing people. How many differing views are there on health care reform. press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden as Obama salutes positive signs in the economy before detailing the updates he was providing to the public on our H1N1 flu preparedness. Perception is in effect an interpretation. regularly praising and acknowledging. can such an approach cost him? In the near term. but with a concerted moral savvy effort. one who takes the savvy high road as Obama does can appear to be losing the immediate battle. playing fair and expecting others to do the same. and expertise to communicate his points. A potential savvy problem for Obama is in the backhanded manner in which others can and do conduct themselves. Commendations are key elements of the trait promotive. . What. He relies on facts. is the nature of the game. and visible for the answers. Obama provides updates regarding progress and accomplishments. Obama also promotes through recognition. not through money. While his stance is admirable. Eventually those with hidden agendas and immoral ploys are exposed. to empower others. data. He creates well-constructed arguments through what he considers to be objective informational accuracy.110 Right Brain/Left Brain President people who thought they had no power realize that they had power. and to foster moral principles through the most civilized of manners. Perception as Reality Perception is reality. Consider the following example from a September 1. or rather. A leader such as Obama knows full well the bad behavior occurring around him and is taking steps to counter it slowly and patiently.
Obama and the Plus Factors
Good afternoon, everybody. Before I say a few words about the meeting we just had I’d like to mention some good news that came out today about our economy. For the first time in eighteen months, our manufacturing sector has expanded, and the statistics used to measure manufacturing output is the highest it’s been in over two years. This means greater production of transportation equipment like cars, and electronic equipment like computers and appliances, and it means these companies are starting to invest more and produce more, and it is a sign that we’ re on the path to economic recovery. There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go, and I and the other members of this administration will not let up until those Americans who are looking for jobs can find them. But this is another important sign that we’re heading in the right direction, and that the steps we’ve taken to bring our economy back from the brink are working. Now, we just had a good meeting about our ongoing efforts to prepare this country for the H1N1 flu virus this fall. And I want to thank John Brennan, our CDC director Tom Frieden, and secretaries Sebelius, Napolitano, Duncan, and Locke for all the good work that they ’ ve been doing to get us ready today. . . . Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available, and as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public. We ’ re also making steady progress on developing a safe and effective H1N1 flu vaccine, and we expect a flu shot program will begin soon . . . I want to commend every member of our team. I think we’ve done an extraordinary job in preparing for this flu outbreak. We anticipate that there will be some issues coming up over the next several months. The way it ’ s moving is still somewhat unpredictable, but what I’m absolutely confident about is that our team that ’ s assembled here has done an extraordinary job in preparing for whatever may happen. So we appreciate all of you for being here, and I want to publicly again thank you for all your extraordinarily hard work.22
Obama began by providing data to demonstrate gains on the economic front. He then called out each member of the preparedness team. Obama highlighted the team’s decision-making process, connecting it to state-of-the-art science while mentioning the status of the flu vaccine in development. In closing he again recognized the team’s exceptional efforts and endorsed their overall capability. Politicians are promotive by nature. It is, after all, their bread and butter, a critical way to solicit the endorsements of their constituents. Obama, like many of his fellow politicos, is adept at it, yet still in all, a cut above with his added flare of reverence. He is genuine in his praise and in his respect for what is accomplished when individuals work together. The savvy trait assimilating is also important in shaping the perceptions of others. Those who are assimilating are well able to integrate into groups, teams, and cultures. As a leader works to integrate she becomes more attuned to members’ perspectives and vice versa. The leader then gains important insights that can sculpt
Right Brain/Left Brain President
her approaches while simultaneously she can begin to share her views to a perhaps more receptive audience. The whole of Obama’s social world, growing up to the present day, required him to integrate and to fit in on a much deeper level than those who walk homogenous life paths. To assimilate is fundamental to him, something that as it turns out will serve him well. As president, Obama is expected to adapt quickly with respect to his responsibilities both at home and abroad. He is well poised to do so with his adaptive inclinations. The final savvy trait is visible. Perceptions are in part molded by how others experience you directly when in your presence. Toward the end of the second chapter the matter of heightened exposure of leaders was raised. The point made was that we are in a new age of access to each other. Leaders have more mediums through which they are openly observed. How you manage those opportunities determines how well you leverage your visibility. Obama is a high-visibility leader. He seems to believe in the value of staying connected and to making his key points in person. He has appeared in various settings and formats that cut across groups and factions as part of a platform of outreach. Companion to Obama’s stance on inclusion, his visible approach ensures ample connection to those he is empowered to serve. Obama’s willingness to be up close and personal also serves to make a formidable statement. It demonstrates a devotion to his convictions—who he is, what he stands for, and what he is setting out to accomplish.
Developing better savvy has immeasurable benefits. Like its partner Plus Factor resilient, through the development of savvy traits, multiple right- and left-brain behaviors are enhanced. Critical to note is that one’s savvy acumen will determine whether, at certain defining moments, a leader will be able to access his full rightbrain / left-brain potential or rather default to habitual ways. Look first at the ways savvy is right- and left-brain enhancing. Through deeper awareness of your circumstances and personal position, you will be able to land on more astute strategic alternatives. Being culturally oriented, along with more timely, assimilating, and subtle in your approach, can drive more successful reinventions (augmenting transformational leadership). As you are more visible and keyed in, others have the opportunity to experience you as a more grounded leader. Your expressive and engaging skills also take on new dimension as you communicate in more diplomatic ways. Your ability to engage is also bolstered through a promotive tone, along with having ample support systems in place, the result of your networking and coalition building. Time will tell the impact as the president continues to work from his brand of savvy talent. As far as defining moments are concerned, Obama had one of many such moments to come on September 9, 2009. The president spoke to Congress and to the nation about health care reform. Media hype referred to it as his make-
Obama and the Plus Factors
or-break speech. As the president entered the congressional chamber he was warmly and enthusiastically greeted. He began his address in promotive fashion, praising the members for their successful actions over the past six months on behalf of the nation’s economic difficulties. The president then refocused the group on the future, specifically on health care reform. He was confrontational and emphatic, wanting the political posturing to end, differences to be resolved, and definitive action to be taken once and for all. Obama was specific in summarizing the facts of his proposed bill, its cost, and how it would be funded. Obama also called attention to the point that presently there was far more agreement than division across Congress on aspects of the plan. Throughout the address he traversed a fine line between recognizing examples of healthy debate while also expressing constructive intolerance of unacceptable competitive ploys. In many respects he was more provocative than we would normally see in such addresses. In concluding his address the president had this to say:
I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road — to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term. But that is not what the moment calls for. That ’ s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. (Applause.) I still believe —I still believe that we can act when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history ’ s test. Because that’s who we are. That is our calling. That is our character.23
In this defining moment, Obama ’ s savvy allowed him to access a broad range of right- and left-brain behaviors, rather than to be constrained by the stress of the moment. He was true to his convictions and wisely accessed alter-brain behaviors (those outside of his most favored preferences). In particular he well balanced his tried and true engaging manner with true assertive closure-seeking declarations. In this defining moment, the president’s savvy was well engaged as it not only served to help Obama accomplish what he is wanting to, but also enabled him to best realize his full leadership impact. With savvy as the last of the ten guiding leadership behaviors, the review of Obama’s unique right- and left-brain leadership proficiency is completed. We turn now to how you too can develop your leadership competence in a more fullspectrum manner, how you can become more Obama-like.
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is that for a leader of today to be truly successful. numerous facets exist that can and should be leveraged as a situation warrants. leaders must possess certain nuance propensities. From Obama’s perspective. he needs to lead from a broad range of behaviors. referred to as leadership depth. —Barack Obama1 From Values to Actions The preceding six chapters have taken you through a unique leader’s rise to the top and actions therein. That Obama is able to move in a seemingly fluid and continuously integrated manner across right. then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all. then. whether your leadership ways emulate your beliefs. leadership begins and ends with one’s values.and left-brain measures to enact your ideals.Chapter 7 Becoming More Obama-Like If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values. what we referred to as leadership breadth. In becoming more Obama-like in your leadership.and left-brain strong suits makes his brand of leadership uncommon and something to aspire toward. you would begin by considering the nature of your leadership values. such that within a given behavior. Additionally. values come with a price. What is clear is that for Barack Obama. From that point you would look to create a full range of right. . A leader needs to act across rightand left-brain abilities. Obama was depicted as acting with such breadth and depth. we should be willing to work to realize them in our lives. The nature of his background and life experiences were shown to have contributed to what ultimately became his self-directed diverse leadership persona. This book’s premise.
each corresponding to one of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. He pushes the intellectual envelope through curiosity of cause in hopes of promoting groundbreaking outcomes. Perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself how painfully honest you are willing to be concerning your shortcomings in order to improve. You will then be provided with tools to help address gaps and exercise brain-style shifts more lithely. • Transformational— Seek evolutions. one of continuous learning and continuous improvement. Leadership Must-Haves Ten Obama leadership imperatives will be identified. not revolutions. and be able to read between the lines to get to the heart of the matter. He does not constrict process but rather encourages the debate of ideas and the soliciting of input from various. Have a change mindset. As you examine these leadership imperatives. He relies on keen intuition to get past surface renderings for deeper meanings and messages. begin to think about your own development opportunities. not how you prefer to be. Right-Brain Line of SITE Imperatives • Strategic—Think before you act. As Obama moves . Such honesty is the first step in paying that price for what you believe in. His playful spirit opens his mind and others to the imaginative and leads the way to more groundbreaking possibilities. We begin with the listing of Obama’s key leadership strong suits distilled into a top ten list. Be tuned in to critical junctures that might either help or hinder your direction. He is open to the unconventional and. think of the bigger picture. Now is the time to come to understand how you are. constituencies. beginning first with those of the right-brain guiding leadership behaviors. Obama relies heavily on reﬂection to accurately understand the present circumstance and to vision what the best possible future state would look like. Understand as you do so that this is the time for you to be as forthright with yourself as possible. • Innovative—Examine problems from multiple angles and vantage points. even competing. his strategies are set from a foundation of broad and sustainable thinking. to a range of potential solutions. He is guided by a phenomenology of consciousness. looking for the nature of experiences.116 Right Brain/Left Brain President In this final chapter we will distill Obama’s strengths in executive summary fashion into a listing of leadership must-haves. As a result. Critical to any development process is personal candor— seeing yourself in an accurate light. Only then can you determine your path. hence. searching for a creative cross-pollination of ideas (and don’t be afraid to have some fun along the way). Obama is a pioneer artist with an appreciation for novelty. You will also have the opportunity to assess your strengths and weaknesses relative to the Right Brain / Left Brain Model and to settle on certain leadership development options. The book will leave you with inspirations from other great leaders whose messages are in line with those of Obama.
not to personal agendas or contrived rules of convenience. at times entertaining. he is apt to follow through with the required fervor. and credible. He is able to confront quite well through constructive intolerance. and then goes a few steps further to be interesting. He recognizes that listening is not a soft attribute. Once his declarations are made. He is a powerful charismatic. He does not drone on. but of simply serving his charge. He sees also what can be accomplished through unremitting eﬀorts. with all that we need to know from him directly. He is a believer in the power of incremental change. He is repetitive when appropriate. • Engaging —Let empathy keep you human. nor are we subjected to annoying mannerisms or maddening rhetoric. He subscribes to letterof-the-law accountability. • Expressive—Communicate. progressive approach. Thankfully. where. clear. punching out salient points. • Grounded — Always act with integrity and above all. but a vehicle to assist leaders in steering their course. Be a good listener. Obama gives a certain amount of leeway. He is concise. his calm.Becoming More Obama-Like 117 through transformations he subscribes to a step-by-step. and realism will get the job done. and how to draw your line in the sand. He also knows full well when enough is enough. He allows others the time to reconcile their diﬀerences and to ﬁnd their place in the work at hand. His aim is to be a good steward. He looks to keep a sharp focus on the top matters at hand and recognizes the importance of remaining practical. communicate. and once you do. . communicate again! Obama is the quintessential communicator. When delivering messages he tees up conversations well. and an even better inspiration and others will surely follow you. The next four imperatives are left brain in origin. He relies on the analysis of facts and circumstances to solve problems and come to conclusions. generating energy and involvement in his wake. he is easy to listen to. focus. don’t back down. One of Obama’s deﬁning features is his stability. and always relating matters at hand personally to his audience. using both ﬁrm demarcations and rational arguments —why and how things must and will change. Obama is highly regimented and orderly in his approach. the interpersonal side of leadership is a vital element of a leader’s ultimate charge. Obama’s self-control is probably fostered by the fact that he is at moral peace with himself and his goals. He tends to the nonverbal attributes of messaging. For Obama. keep your cool. He has a watchful eye. Obama leads from a moral base. a great model. driving further alignment between what he says and how he says it. and when you think you are through. articulates the substance of the message. Obama stresses the importance of empathy in leadership interactions. • Assertive—Know clearly when. as important contributors to any change process. he models what he expects. believing ﬁrst and foremost that a leader must act through direct compassion. His seems not the direction of hidden agendas or power plays. He does his best to talk the talk and walk the walk. aimed at keeping apprised of progress. and he adjusts his course accordingly. He places high value on learning and on knowledge. Left-Brain MEGA Mind Essentials • Methodical—Discipline.
In addition to these leadership must-haves. keep the greater good clearly in sight. fundamental awareness. When stuck in a preference. groups. This counterintuitive approach begins by looking out at possibilities.2 . The saying “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. grounded. He is also a wellness icon. Obama is an attitude role model for sure. never take the bait. and engaging—conceptualize what is possible and secure the buy-in needed from those around you to get you there. remember also to consider the following four points that crystallize the Right Brain /Left Brain Leadership Model fundamentals: 1. and being cognizant of the perceptions of others will shape the deciding votes. so you should. but to help him to de-stress from the massive demands of his job. innovative. is fueled by close personal contacts. • Savvy—Pay attention. His Plus Factors are ingrained into his mode of operating. He stays hopeful and upbeat. Know when they work in your favor and when they don’t. expressive. 4.and left-brain behaviors (accessing alter-brain behaviors) will generate greater forward momentum and greater opportunities for success. In the end. He inﬂuences from a full set of power bases. and ensure the self-care necessary for you to meet the demands of your work. not harder. Work diﬀerently. Obama is a ﬁrm believer in teamwork and collaboration. Look for collective ways that you and those you interact with can pool knowledge. Your brain thrives on them. always available to support his overall approaches. He works through broad factions. Obama is a consummate politician in the best sense of the word. and resources. For Obama. Recognize your preferences. information. inﬂuencing skills. using his workout regime to not only stay healthy and ﬁt. ﬂuidity in thought and approach is central to his appeal and overall eﬀectiveness. shift style. 2. Shifting between right. and assertive— make possibilities a reality. Be willing and able to push beyond your core inclinations for greater impact.118 Right Brain/Left Brain President Obama and the Plus Factors • Resilient — Stay positive. He loves what he does. with a farreaching antenna. 3. Obama relies regularly on an array of behaviors and traits beyond those that are his cornerstones. especially when challenged. too. transformational. work your systems. The leader’s MEGA mind and its behaviors—methodical. and channels to build allies and is clearly accessible so that his positions and accomplishments are evident. and above all. The leader’s Line of SITE and its behaviors— strategic. not from those derived solely from rank and stature. The Plus Factors —resilient and savvy— are ever-present adjuncts to bolster and secure your overall eﬀectiveness. A synergy is any combined eﬀort that nets a greater result. and is always looking to make extended favorable impacts. Obama leads from the right and well incorporates in his left brain partner. Orient your leadership from right to left. He is acutely aware. Those are the top ten ways in which you can aspire to harness the leadership breadth and depth of this exemplar. Promote synergies.
1. it is a means of providing accurate views of our leadership strengths. Try to imagine the nature of your interactions. Consider how Obama brings them to life. A reflection and visioning activity such as this is an effective way to get started. think about your leadership values—what you believe in— what defines who you are and how you would like to lead. Another diagram of the model is provided in Figure 7. giving you a visual reference to stimulate your thinking as well. Next. A blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil with the title written across the top will also do just fine. Go back and look over the ten leadership imperatives that were presented earlier in this chapter. First. keeping in mind what you learned about Obama’s right brain/ left brain leadership. put into words your leadership vision. To do so you will need the benefit of various forms of data. and you are well meeting your leadership challenges. Record any thoughts that come to mind. how you are carrying yourself and constructing your day relative to the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Note specifically where you see some of your greatest strengths as well as certain gaps or opportunities. Feedback serves as an important . Next you will need to accurately and more precisely assess your leadership strengths and development opportunities to correctly land on the best possible action steps. Instructions on how to complete the activity are found in the shaded box below. Think about what is the same and what is different from how you lead today. Such data come to us as development feedback. INITIAL REFLECTION/VISIONING For this activity you’ll need to open up a new document on your computer and call the file Initial Reflection/Visioning.Becoming More Obama-Like 119 Your Call to Action The following reflection and visioning activity will start you on your development path. Now close your eyes and envision that it is one year from today. Open your eyes and construct a short paragraph of your thoughts. what works in our leadership favor. You are leading in alignment with your values. You are going to think about two things. This exercise will help you consider your leadership effectiveness overall—how you presently function versus how you would ultimately like to lead. think about what you have learned about the Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model. In this case. Feedback: A Key Ingredient Feedback is knowledge through which we can deepen our awareness. Following that summary paragraph. Feedback can also help us understand what we need to focus on to better meet leadership challenges.
a boss. while a piece of feedback may appear to be incorrect. Feedback can be expressed to us directly or we can glean it by observing others’ reactions. Some may simply choose to dismiss unpleasant feedback. being open to it. and then interpreting it. relayed through someone. Formally we can receive feedback through performance appraisals and through prescribed leadership assessment tools.3 . or by demeanor we observe when in someone’s presence. There is an art to receiving feedback. cutting off potentially valuable information concerning your ultimate success. Feedback can come to us formally and informally. However.1 Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership Model ( Partial) check and balance to what we believe to be so concerning how we function as leaders. When gathering informal feedback or observing others’ reactions. It takes an investigative mindset to understand its true meaning.120 Right Brain/Left Brain President Figure 7. Feedback can be expressed to us directly from a source or can come to us indirectly. Feedback may not always be accurate itself —it may carry with it the misperceptions of its carrier. making certain they are accurate. especially when it is about the problematic. Informally we can ask a colleague. it is important to separate out facts from assumptions and to test our assumptions. it always has some truth to it. or a direct report to comment on some aspect of our performance.
and individuals relative to values. Consider the source and the context of feedback and interpret feedback on that basis. teams. Behaviors are intentionally listed in random order. 3. thoughts. Recognize that dealing with feedback is a skill. and determined to get the desired results ___ Transformational: To drive change in cultures. especially from those you trust. Seek feedback from a variety of sources as a key part of your development process — don’t rely solely on your own perspective. Ask yourself what each piece of feedback is telling you and be sure to separate factual data from assumptions. What is the feedback telling you? Take a few minutes to summarize what you are hearing about how others experience you as a leader. Note any patterns or themes along with any inconsistencies between how others see you and how you see yourself. It will help position you in your next step.Becoming More Obama-Like 121 The Takeaways about Feedback Are This: 1. and actions ___ Strategic: To be proactive and visionary. but it is good for you in the long run. While feedback isn’t always easy to deal with—the analogy could be likened to taking your medicine —it may not taste great. to rate yourself on each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. Put on your detective hat and try to reconcile discrepancies. Using the Leadership Behavior Rating Form below. remembering that this is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. to get things done in a way that advances both you and those organizations you are afﬁliated with ___ Innovative: To have an open mind and be able to think creatively without restraint . to have the long-range view ___ Savvy: To sense and respond appropriately to the cultural climates. recently and over time. direct. You may use a narrative or list format. Think for a moment about the feedback you have received. Breadth Analysis Soliciting and making good use of feedback will help make your development assessment more accurate. 2. Look for themes and converging lines of evidence to help focus your development targets. There are many other helpful vantage points to consider. for each of the ten behaviors rate yourself on a scale from 0 to 10 with 10 being flawless (and as such highly improbable). formally and informally. LEADERSHIP BEHAVIOR RATING FORM ___ Assertive: To be upfront. as you will have the benefit of varying perspectives to augment your own. actually more like an art. direct and indirect. Test any and all assumptions.
open to possibilities and leading to envisioned future states. you will also need to consider how to promote greater depth acumen within each of the ten behaviors. A sample circle diagram is provided below. in that if you accessed them more regularly. and mindset ___ Methodical: To plan well. Using these pielike charts you . to be the steward and the gauge4 Looking over your ratings. to validate. and recognize others and to help them take on responsibility ___ Resilient: To possess the optimal physical and mental functioning.122 Right Brain/Left Brain President ___ Expressive: To clearly communicate your thoughts both formally and informally while providing the necessary context ___ Engaging: To understand and work well with others. Behaviors with lower scores should provide options for increasing your leadership breadth. Is that what you are finding? Or are you multidominant. Recall if you can typical Obama-like style shifts.1. stamina. ways in which the president moves fluidly around the model. How might certain of his patterns also serve you? For instance. Additionally.and left. and stability. involve.brain equation? Depth Analysis While the Leadership Behavior Rating Form will help pinpoint opportunities for developing greater leadership breadth. consistency. his alter-brain methodical skill comes in as his needed detailed planner for present tasks. note your behavioral preferences (those behaviors on which you scored highest). Typically leaders are stronger in left-brain behaviors and need bolstering and reorienting to the right. I’ve provided you with circle diagrams for each of the ten behaviors and corresponding traits in the book’s appendix. yet he knows how and when to shift style to the assertive to confront and bring needed closure to matters.and left-brain attributes but still with certain gap areas on one or both sides of the right. They were left off purposely in order for you to visualize your own potential style shift opportunities. Looking again at the Right Brain / Left Brain Model diagram provided in Figure 7. Obama’s preference is more toward the engaging. possessing certain right. Your highest ratings should reflect your typical leadership style. you could be more effective. Note also one or two breadth targets (behaviors that you scored lowest on). while he is first and foremost strategic. to be systematic and effectual in your approach to initiatives ___ Grounded: To act with integrity. you may notice that the dotted lines that were shown when the model was introduced are not on this version. To give you a way to rate your depth strengths and opportunities.
Dots closer to the outside rim of the circle represent higher ratings. Take a moment to go to the appendix and look over the blank pie charts for each behavior.2 Sample Ratings for Traits of STRATEGIC Leadership can note where you stand with respect to your leadership depth. Connecting the dots gives you a picture of your depth strengths and gaps. thinking. and approaches.Becoming More Obama-Like 123 Figure 7.com. and holistic. Figure 7. this leader will need to find ways to become broader and more inclusive in her orientation. To lead from the right and to meet strategic challenges. global. Remember to consider the information from feedback sources as you decide on your ratings. Complete your depth assessment for each of the ten guiding leadership behaviors. You can also find electronic copies of these forms at www.2 shows an example of a completed chart for the behavior strategic.leadlifeinstitute. Dots placed closer to the center of the circle represent low scores on a given trait. . This leader’s strategic constraints are illustrated through lower scores on big-picture oriented.2 you can see a fictitious leader’s depth rating for the traits of strategic leadership. In Figure 7.
It could be one of his decisions. creating a process for future leadership development work. In other words. As a means of more directly connecting with our exemplar.124 Right Brain/Left Brain President Setting Priorities With your leadership vision in mind and when looking over your breadth and depth assessments. you will now need to prioritize your top development opportunities. The objective is to think strategically about how you will achieve your greatest impact. Under the START section you will list three to four actions that you will need to initiate. As the final step in your call to action. and the selection and prioritization of development targets. In the STOP-START-CONTINUE chart below. the culling of developmental feedback. An example is provided in the boxed worksheet below. Leaders are already stretched with respect to time. Think of this as an initial set of development priorities.and left-brain plane. Ask yourself. The Plan The assessment steps taken thus far include the completion of a leadership vision. something that either was cited here in this book or you know of on your own. you will need to put this information into accessible summary form. Indicate what aspects of your work will show greater effectiveness and how. in a paragraph for each target. actions that will be new and additive to your current style. in the section headed CONTINUE you will list three to four actions that serve you well—those that define your favorable leadership preferences. or slogans. at this moment in your career and given your current responsibilities and existing capabilities. note an Obama-like reminder to inspire you. beginning with the STOP category. note how your leadership will be enhanced as you improve in each area. The simplest perhaps is something commonly referred to as a STOP-START-CONTINUE. Actions specified in your CONTINUE column represent that which you wish to maintain as tried-and-true strong suits. You could be listing an item that represents an overplayed strength. Prioritizing your development efforts is critical. or something that no longer serves you in your present role. There are only so many hours in the day. describing specifically how working on these three aspects of your leadership will help you. There are many possible formats to use. Trying to take on too much may simply not be doable. Identify three leadership development targets—what you will concentrate your improvement efforts on over the next six months. next to each action. you will indicate three to four actions you will eliminate from your repertoire altogether. START actions can promote greater breadth or depth and will ensure adequate movement across the right. After this initial six-month period you can repeat the process and identify new targets. Record a brief rationale for each selection. where can you get the best return on your development investment? Once your priorities are set you are ready to create your plan. actions. a bad habit. something you can easily keep in front of you. . Lastly.
all that is left is to provide you with tools to assist you. fifteen tools have been selected that best complement Obama-like actions. One such possibility is a tool called chaining. Using the preceding example. Development tools come from schools of thought in psychology and from the fields of interpersonal communications. health. Since the brain can be in essence locked in certain habitual patterns of conduct. If you were to use chaining to . or supportive ( Plus Factor–based). Fortunately certain tools are available to assist you. to stop wavering when things are difficult. and wellness. defined as taking successive steps to a desired goal. left brain. Tools facilitate the development of a new action. like the guiding leadership behaviors. It takes specific effort and focus. are either right brain. This tool is in alignment with Obama’s position on progressive change. since the action you are seeking to develop falls under the left-brain behavior assertive. These tools. You are then more likely to take advantage of opportunities for either stopping a given mannerism and/or adding a new leadership tact. Tools of the Trade Changing behavior is never easy. Select a tool that matches the action.Becoming More Obama-Like 125 STOP-START-CONTINUE STOP Actions Depth trait tenacity: Stop wavering when things seem difﬁcult START Actions CONTINUE Actions “Yes we can” Obama-like inspiration With your development actions clearly in mind. This tool would be helpful as it would enable you to start small and build your new. For our purposes. In this case. therefore. They emanate from how certain theoretical perspectives view behavior and. A full assortment of development tools can be found in this text’s parent book. you would look through the fifteen tools that follow and identify one that could help you. tools help to gently open your mind to other options. how they approach behavior change. Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact. The methodology for using development tools would be to look over the desired actions indicated in your STOP-START-CONTINUE and identify a tool to help you put each action in play. that once a goal is identified you keep working toward it in incremental steps. you would look for a left-brain tool. more tenacious stance progressively. old habits will return. The brain is unfortunately habitual —unless otherwise repeatedly directed.
You don’t parrot his words but in your own words capture the essence of what is being said. and validating. the unstructured. . meaning listening for understanding. trial and error. but to the nature of their experience. not just the words or the topic. The right-brain development tools you will be learning are active listening. Active listening is a thought-based listening approach. and the new. RIGHT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Active listening: Listening attentively for meaning. this important tool is the key element of empathy. Consider this example of simple listening versus active listening between a boss and a direct report. You attend to what the other person is saying. What does the other person feel? What meaning does the situation have for him? You paraphrase back what you heard. or empathy Brainstorming: Generating ideas or options in a free-ﬂowing manner Drawing: Creating pictures to convey thoughts Reﬂection: Considering the nature of or looking back over something Visioning: Imaging a future state through a mental picture5 Taking one right-brain tool at a time in more depth. not simply one that reflects content or facts. Validation is a gut check giving the other person an opportunity to tell you how close or far off you are and to provide you with additional information if necessary. implications. beginning with active listening. SIMPLE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. and visioning. but there have been a lot of distractions. It consists of three components: attending. the recent layoffs. Right-Brain Tools Right-brain tools are based on humanistic and affective perspectives of psychology and focus on awareness. What is important is that you get to an experience-based understanding. the whole. what with this new product we’re testing. you would identify something small that you could assert yourself on and continue to up the ante from there.126 Right Brain/Left Brain President stop wavering. Right-brain tools are summarized in the shaded section below. drawing. You are looking to express meaning. emotions. reflection. paraphrasing. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. brainstorming.
in fact. Boss. it can assist at various transformational junctures. iPhones. that are impacting how this will all shake out? Direct Report: For sure. Using active listening can promote better strategic decisions. well lots to do. you shift style to your left brain and apply methodical organization to glean the best possible options. In this illustration the leader became alerted to potential problems and unearthed an opportunity for a collaborative discussion with his direct report that will serve multiple enhancing purposes for the work. We read books. The next right-brain tool. tap into the brain’s vast nonverbal resources? For most of us. type. We abandoned our crayons and finger paints back in kindergarten for paper and pen and now also cling to our laptops. what with this new product we’re testing. brainstorming.Becoming More Obama-Like and the restructuring of people’s roles. It puts our mind on an innovative track. Thoughts are generated without structure. Blackberries. We talk and talk and talk and type. can help us to become more creative. until now. and for the development of the direct report. no good or bad ideas. Tom? Direct Report: We’re getting there. the recent layoffs. take out a large sheet of paper and some multicolored crayons or markers. Boss. We are constantly exercising the verbal areas of our brain. and Palms. How often do we stimulate. three key issues. access. but this one may be tricky. newspapers. Boss: OK. and it can foster engaging dialogues. Boss: OK. I’m up for a challenge. and I know if anyone can handle it. 127 ACTIVE LISTENING APPROACH Boss: How’s it going. There are no right or wrong answers. The point is to open up your mind initially through innovation — to begin on the right side of the brain. and begin. Tom. . for the relationship. When you brainstorm you write down whatever comes to mind. I’m up for a challenge. and magazines and are satiated with dialogue from reality television. let’s set some time aside soon to do just that. Boss: So. Brainstorming is simple. Drawing is a hidden gem of a leadership tool. Sleep seemed our only verbal escape. we talk and type some more. not an intellectual one. When you are through. you can. you are saying that there is some added complexity. we hardly ever do. type and when we’ve had enough. Put on some music. and the restructuring of people’s roles. then. and I think at least talking through some of the role changes and timelines might help ensure that we pull this off. but there have been a lot of distractions. Make it a playful event. but this one may be tricky. Think about how much of our lives are verbal.
Think of New Year’s resolutions—however well intended. so let that excuse go. using two right-brain tools simultaneously. As a leadership development tool a reflection is most helpful when you are seeking to better understand your behavior. Then describe in words what the picture conveys. The basic aim is to better understand the nature of something. You now have two ways to vision. they often fall by the wayside. Overall a reflection provokes insight. and steps. The process for drawing is straightforward. as a first step in trying to alter or better leverage your impact. In this sense you are also visioning. to create a physical image as in a drawing or a mental image as you did earlier in the chapter’s visioning activity. you could fold the paper in half and create before-andafter depictions. now you can draw your way to your nonverbal power. and honest consideration provides an advantage that we didn’t have before. visioning and drawing. a reflection can foster any and all aspects of right-brain leadership. While we don’t know if Obama uses drawings or brainstorming per se. sketches. and we can easily know what we want to do differently. Reflecting first on something you would like to change or accomplish. open. for example. using symbols. but then we seem to have difficulty following through. The left- . The final right-brain tool is a reflection. Change is not easy and behavior change is harder still. As such. These two tools can help build your creative proclivities. We know we are not satisfied with some aspect of our lives. structure. Our perspective is better informed. they both drive the innovative. This is not about artistic ability. Referenced at several points in the preceding chapters as a key tool of Obama’s and at the outset of this section of the text. easy. Both of these right-brain tools. each can promote future (strategic) thinking as well as help gauge and facilitate various aspects of transformational and engaging leadership. a reflection can be done in a number of ways. associations. Sometimes the best starting place with behavior change is through the added awareness a reflection can bring. Additionally. encourage the imagination. it can be used to assist you with virtually any development action. Construct an image. or diagrams (no words). and from that point we can perhaps set a better plan. we do know that he is well inclined to the innovative. Left-Brain Tools Left-brain tools are based on behavioral and cognitive approaches of psychology and focus on logic. repetition. the present state on the top half of the paper and the desired state on the bottom half. New Year’s resolutions are often nothing more than a wish list. to help you become more future focused in your strategies. giving the matter careful. This is about tapping into your uncensored brain. If you are using drawing. and relaxing. Drawing is in fact so very potent a development tool. never followed through on.128 Right Brain/Left Brain President Simple. helps us to learn and to give deeper and more open consideration to something.
chaining. while chaining is in our left-brain toolkit. LEFT-BRAIN TOOLKIT Behavior rehearsal: Practicing a new behavior until it is ingrained Chaining: Taking successive steps to a desired goal Cuing: Using an object. As such. She looks over at the prepared lunch she brought and thinks . Cuing has immeasurable value in the behavior change process. She closes the document and notices her spider. Referred to also as a cognitive cue. She tells her brain to associate the spider with her need to get out of her office and interact with others in a more directed and continuous manner. An added value of chaining is that it fosters methodical organization and focus as well. a picture. When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of networking. cuing. While the temptation in behavior change is often to start with that which challenges us most. quote. it can help us to tackle just about any development goal by working one step at a time. An executive is looking to enhance her savvy skills. In particular. Behavior rehearsal can help drive more assertive behaviors in the underassertive. It can be likened to Obama’s “building a house brick by brick” method. Chaining was cited as an example in the opening section on tools as breaking a development hurdle down into doable segments. it is actually better to start off small and work your way up. The very nature of behavior rehearsal contributes to one’s methodical tendencies. or phrase to prompt a desired behavior Reframing: Changing a perspective. Cuing is like a literal call to action for the brain. in this case from a negative to a positive6 The point has been made that Obama is a disciplined individual. and reframing.Becoming More Obama-Like 129 brain tools you will be learning about are described in the shaded box below and include behavior rehearsal. It is 11:30 on a Wednesday and she has just completed a small project. It involves practicing something over and over or roleplaying until the desired ability becomes second nature. a quote. She goes to her son’s toy chest and pulls out a small plastic spider and brings it with her to work. this marvelous little tool uses a phrase. It can help break bad interpersonal habits that compromise our ability to be grounded. She places it on her desk just next to her computer screen. It is an alert of sorts that tells the brain you need something different from it at a particular moment. she relays the image of a spider weaving a web. Here is an example of cuing at work. she needs to change how she works in order to build stronger networks. or some tangible object to set your behavior on its new path. She is reminded to network. It can help those with expressive leadership gaps become more adept and confident speakers. Behavior rehearsal drives discipline. Her cue is now always in plain sight.
others from health and wellness practices. People think more about what they stand to lose than what they stand to gain. that the Plus Factor tools are your first line of defense. It would stand to reason. Each Plus Factor tool is aimed at supporting different aspects of your resilient and savvy development. for instance. Cuing has limitless utility. While cuing itself is a left-brain activity. “That will keep until tomorrow. and promote well-being7 . and stress busters. cuing clearly extends beyond its left-brain place with expanded right brain reach as an enhancer of imagination. feedforward. who dreads resistance when trying to effect change is asked to think instead of resistance as an indicator that the change process is working. the creative process for settling on the proper cue affords this unique development tool a place on the right side of the brain equation as well. something that shows that the change is being taken seriously. Plus Factor Tools Plus Factor tools come from varied origins. and they resist. feedback. then. or person Feedforward: Prefacing statements Mentors: Experienced role models who guide and support Stress busters: Targeted activities that alleviate tension. survey. that the behaviors resilient and savvy in effect bolster your effectiveness in the other eight right. rejuvenate energy. Reframing uses left-brain logic to see things in a different light. In this example. deep breathing. and the remainder from the principles of interpersonal communication. A leader.” She calls a colleague to meet off campus for lunch.and left-brain behaviors. Resistance. the illogical thought is to expect to move through change without pushback. We take an illogical thought and reframe it into a logical one. As such. reframing can help position this leader to better face her challenges by being on firmer logical ground. For a leader whose left-brain development goal is to be better able to confront opposition and to bring closure to needed changes. The case was made that Plus Factors facility can and will determine how effective you are as a leader overall. mentors. Some emanate from motivational psychology. though.130 Right Brain/Left Brain President to herself. is actually a natural reaction to change. PLUS FACTOR TOOLKIT Attitude setting: Moving to a desired mindset Deep breathing: Concentrated breathing activity to promote calm Feedback: Evaluative information from an assessment. Plus Factor tools described in the shaded box below include attitude setting. These are tools you should seek to draw from first.
You accomplish this by focusing on your breathing speed and progressively increasing the air intake. The president appears to recognize the need to incorporate multiple facets into his attitude setting. One could say Obama’s attitude setting in many instances reflects that of an understanding inclusive leader with certain bottom lines. filling your abdomen rather than contracting it. What do you most need to accomplish? Do you need to come across well to a particular group? Do you need to bring clarity to a problem or issue? Do you need to facilitate movement on a project? Do you need to tend to team dynamics? Call up whatever the key needs are for the day and determine the best frame of mind to drive a successful outcome. for example. work to clear your mind of distractions. It will help to keep you from taking the bait. from welcoming and collegial to confrontational and limit setting.Becoming More Obama-Like 131 Attitude setting is about possessing the right frame of mind for a given circumstance. It is the foundation of many if not all relaxation exercises. consider the complexity of the matter at hand and determine the suitable attitude for the level of intricacy. You will see him reflect his broad-based posture in the various communication tones he takes on. count to ten with a cleansing breath. President Obama’s attitude about winning on health care reform were based solely on a positive viewpoint. It sometimes helps to concentrate on a prompting . Open your eyes and speak the adjectives aloud. Sit with your eyes closed and begin to think about the schedule ahead. and of yoga and meditation. It is best done at the outset of your day. You are now ready for your day. Many believe it facilitates overall health and well-being. In essence. Find adjectives to reflect the attitude you need to act from. If you feel like your buttons are getting pushed. deep breath. This kind of breath will take practice. You need to build up to a slow. Consider the nature of your challenges and expectations. and take a slow.8 Whenever your driven nature makes it difficult for you to feel composed. that his mindset must be as complex as the problems and issues he is attempting to address. If you are juggling multiple tasks and beginning to feel frazzled. Deep breathing is an invaluable aid. deep breath. If. Deep breathing has long been found to help reduce stress and improve thought clarity. When considering your attitude. deep breathing can help. Deepen the breaths as you go along. There are several techniques for deep breathing. would he be formidable enough to make his case? Certainly he would not be. This you can see is far more complex than the singular stance of positive. what you set out to accomplish. think more broadly about attitude as aligning your expectations. Close your eyes. While you are breathing. rest your arms on your legs. stop and practice deep breathing. The process presented here is a straightforward form that can be done anywhere you can find a quiet seated place. While a positive attitude is often an important mindset choice. Obama’s attitude reflects instead all of the above. How does attitude setting work? You will need ten to fifteen minutes and a quiet place free from interruption. with the best outlook to get you there. sit comfortably.
icons. Phatic communication is that which sets a mood or a social nicety. In using this tool you are doing proactive work on your image while showing audiences empathy and added respect. Obama. Yoga. validation. He is well read. and wellness. Loving close relationships can be a powerful relaxer. and meditation have been found to promote overall calm. and history. Lastly. What did we learn from Obama in terms of how he deals with stress? He subscribes to a disciplined physical exercise regime. and they have the reverence to seek counsel from others who are accomplished. A feedforward can also express an expectation or provide a disclaimer. soaking up all he can from past presidents. influence perceptions. feedforward is an alert tool with many uses. and stretching as their foundations. and be seen as more responsible overall. health. A feedforward is information you provide that prepares others for what you are about to say. Obama finds peace in the love of his family—his wife and children. such as to open the lines of communication. He also forms mentoring relationships with key individuals from whom he can learn. tai chi. which is referred to as phatic communication. Obama uses mentors in two special ways. While most hard-charging leaders like Obama are prone to physical exercise regimes. Born from diversity in makeup and rearing. Stress busters can take many forms.132 Right Brain/Left Brain President sound or phrase. The final Plus Factor tool is a range of activities we will refer to as stress busters. the Obama family pet. The smartest individuals know what they don’t know.9 Feedforward messages enable you to begin on a positive note. Feedback has been covered earlier in the chapter as an important and ongoing tool in your development process. and relaxation with the unconditional love they provide. Different from feedback. A final set of stress-busting activities that warrant mention are those forms of exercise that are more inward based. Let’s not forget Bo. past and present leaders. He frequently tees up conversations with prefacing statements. Obama uses feedforwarding as a natural aspect of his speaking. circumvent misunderstandings at the outset.and left-brain leadership breadth and depth. the alter-brain utility of quieter forms of exercise may actually afford more varied resilience benefits. This cue will tell your brain to respond differently than it has in the past. It can serve a number of purposes. He loves to walk and to run to de-stress and to clear his mind. They have also been noted to encourage clear and reflective thought. for one. Mentors are invaluable development aids for leaders. ultimately through his own . concentration. experts. those that use deep breathing. Summary Thoughts This book has asked you to think about the uncommon leadership ability of President Barack Obama relative to right. Pets can be a wonderful source of fun. They recognize how to use resources available to them. He pays attention to diet as a way to stay well and thereby deal more effectively with stress.
S. collaboratively and integrally. focused. On September 21.and left-brain interwoven abilities were in full swing. continued international hot spots. Clinton described that Obama seems able to connect the dots between projects and drive synergies and interrelationships in impressive fashion. 2009.11 Today. the news broke that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. realistic. and to the point. He was candid. but most impressive was how he is able to handle multiple critical priorities simultaneously and to handle them all well. In the face of the heated health care debate. President Clinton was asked what he believed was President Obama’s greatest strength. Clinton remarked that Obama’s strengths were many. steady. a locale strategically selected for the gains that country had already made in this direction . Clinton was pointing to Obama’s right and left brain working in consort. Included in those accomplishments were the following milestones and positions: • His determination to press the world of nations to free the planet from nuclear threats • His reaching out to the Muslim world to reshape the tone and positioning of U. the way it was designed to function. He was insightful and playful. It obviously took clearer form following the election results in November 2008. Obama’s right. He laughed one moment and switched gears effortlessly when the situation warranted. and global economic woes. former president Bill Clinton was being interviewed on the Larry King Live television program. As Obama has moved into the now ten-month mark of his presidency.Becoming More Obama-Like 133 self-directed determination. He pondered the future and was in the moment spot-on. to his learned style of answering direct and complex questions./Muslim relations • His messages to help better empower Africans in their own plights. what continues to be impressive is how steady. He seems in this for the long haul. delivered in Ghana. as I work to put the final touches on the book. is able to draw from a full array of leadership talents to meet both his aspirations and challenges. How he approaches his work and what fundamentally drives him is very different from the leadership of the moment we typically see around us. Among other questions. a befitting validation of Obama’s worth. the president was calm. He does not default to quick fixes and short cuts.10 The following evening President Obama appeared on David Letterman’s latenight television program. determined to create lasting benefits and sustainable change. and thorough he is in spite of the onslaught of issues. I began this project midway through the president’s campaign. The president was recognized for a series of efforts throughout the first year of his presidency to change the ways in which we think and act toward one another as primal to improving each and every one of the world’s problems. He was comfortable and reassuring. and he repeatedly thwarts political opportunism. and engaging. His interview with host Letterman was in many respects the book’s capstone.
Choose and prioritize wisely. Such dated measures will result in having to fight the same battles over and over as we persist in working harder rather than smarter. on our home front. say. begin to restore our party system to how it was intended to function. Think about how the powerful messages from the following leaders can contribute further still to your right brain / left brain leadership thinking as they may have contributed to his. If you’ve learned nothing else. The integral nature of Obama’s thinking lends itself to root cause problem solving . Continue to do so and the ghosts of leadership past will come back to haunt you. for sustainable gains and for impact above and beyond. though. From this recognition. I hope the book has provided clear examples and options to assist in enhancing your leadership impact. Now is the time for the new age of leadership. . including a meeting of the United Nations Security Council that Obama himself chaired • His commitments to more deﬁnitively ﬁght climate change12 Obama was humble in his acceptance of this great honor. Remember. As a wake-up call to leaders. Begin to work on improvements progressively. Therein lies our real energy crisis. Parting Inspirations In closing I thought it a fitting tribute to call upon the voices of some whose thinking could have inspired or perhaps did inspire President Obama. Perhaps with this in mind we can better consider Obama’s perspective on. Start today by identifying a trait and tool pair that can take you closer to your leadership vision. we can believe even further in the Obama brand of leadership with respect to ultimate potential. assertiveness as a balance between tenacity and attaining buy-in. Come to know your behavioral strengths and areas for opportunity. knowing he has only begun the work at hand. you will push your brain to full engagement. know that more is not better— different is.134 Right Brain/Left Brain President • His emphatic declaration and reframing of Middle East peace as a “win-win” proposition • His thrust at the United Nations General Assembly for world leaders to more collectively and substantively own and work together on challenges that aﬀect us all. Seek fresh shared ways to add value. success should no longer be measured by immediate victories and short-term gains. Obama’s enactment of savvy as integrity politics can also. Using the Obama brand of leadership as your new scorecard. not simply that of winning the fight of the moment. Keep in mind the following process and you’ll be on your way. while his collective orientation stresses unification over divide. this is all about extending your contribution through collaboration and modernization.
—Warren Buﬀett15 When will our conscience grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than to avenge it? —Eleanor Roosevelt16 There are no secrets to success. —Martin Luther King Jr. . —George Bernard Shaw19 Thank you for allowing me to share in your leadership creations. you’ll do things diﬀerently. You imagine what you desire. it’s is not the years in your life that count. hard work.Becoming More Obama-Like 135 In the end. and at last you create what you will. you will what you imagine. —Colin Powell17 A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. —Mohandas Gandhi14 It takes 20 years to build a reputation and ﬁve minutes to ruin it.18 Imagination is the beginning of creation. and learning from failure. It’s the life in your years. It is the result of preparation. —Abraham Lincoln13 A small body of determined spirits ﬁred by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. Special thanks to President Obama for his eminent leadership example. If you think about that.
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Chris’s vision helped to push the envelope.and left-brain mentors. Dr. Annette Kelton. Dr. Thanks to you for your openness to the Right Brain / Left Brain model and related tools. Their friendship is ever so appreciated. made this book possible. and Debbie’s strong suit in leaving no stone unturned brought the project home. I look forward to what’s to come from the Obama years and how his example will inspire leadership into the future. Shoemaker has had a distinguished leadership career in the military. Writing about this exceptional leader has been a thoroughly reaffirming experience. Praeger of ABC-CLIO. respectively. Peter Landau. and for your supportive words. Christopher Shoemaker. Joseph Flaherty. . Jennifer Ogle. it is compelling to work with dedicated leaders who want nothing more than to make a difference. and to how you inspire the institute’s practices. My publisher. special thanks for taking the time to preread the manuscript. and Sean Stegall. for your feedback. Chris and Debbie served as the project’s right. He is also an accomplished writer and a true Renaissance man—a consummate “full-brain” leader. To the clients and staff of the Lead Life Institute. and in particular my editors. Support in the day-to-day came from the tireless efforts of Michelle Rooney and Katie Welykoridko. The book’s foreword was written by a respected colleague. To the respected and esteemed individuals who served as endorsements for the book. serving on the staffs of two presidents and now in the private corporate sector as a senior vice president for strategy. Kathy Bussert of Design Spring is appreciated for her creative and technical talent. Chris Stout. Dr. I greatly value his support and counsel as a mentor and a friend. Debbie Carvalko and Dr.Acknowledgments This book is dedicated to President Obama for his inspiration. Their research and attention to detail was flawless and invaluable.
my uncles. I so appreciate your interest and encouragement over the past eleven months. Kevin Monahan. Fran and Roger Holmstrom. Bobby. Sarah. . and typed . and Christine Troianello. and connection anything is possible. I remember and acknowledge always my grandparents Swift and Lucy. To the rest of my family—my mom. Tony and Bernice. and knew just when and how to make me take breaks. Carol. Annie. Pat. Mike and Pat Cerisano. Skip and Marilyn Rosskam. Jean-Pierre. Sue Spinella. and typed. and Kristen—I look forward to our continued times together. Bob and Big-guy. our daughters. Karen. the personification of the American dream. Emily Douchette. Janine. Mike. Lisa. Nicole. my sister-in-law. my nieces and nephew. and Sam. my aunts. self-made business success. integrity. who provide that particular love Westies are so very good at. and mostly how you continue to care for and believe in me. Holli Beckwith. To dear friends Anita Augustine. and my grandmother as my original source of feminine wisdom. . my brother and sister. Jerri Frantzve.138 Acknowledgments Support of a different nature came from my family and friends. I so appreciate your perspectives. Mark and Jessica Hockley. You guys slept in your favorite spots in the office day after day after day as I typed. Susanne. Rosemarie. From them I learned what really counts when setting out to make a contribution: that through determination. Toni and Laura. . Patricia and Yasmine. and my cousins. and Michael Peters. I’m proud to say. my dad and stepmom. Don and Donna Hoscheit. My husband. who cheered the book on and tolerated the black hole I often vanished into in order to get this project done. Max and Lilly. Tony and Linda. Gina. patience. Nancy Landau. with me in spirit—my grandfather as a self-taught. is. Of course special mention goes to my furry soul mates. Jimmy. someone I deeply admire for his brand of leadership courage.
Appendix Worksheets .
140 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE Figure A.1 Line of SITE Blank Charts—STRATEGIC and INNOVATIVE .
Appendix 141 Behavior Trait Ratings/Line of SITE (continued) Figure A.2 Line of SITE Blank Charts—TRANSFORMATIONAL and ENGAGING .
3 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—METHODICAL and EXPRESSIVE .142 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind Figure A.
Appendix 143 Behavior Trait Ratings/MEGA Mind (continued) Figure A.4 MEGA Mind Blank Charts—GROUNDED and ASSERTIVE .
144 Appendix Behavior Trait Ratings/Plus Factors Figure A.5 Plus Factor Blank Charts—RESILIENT and SAVVY .
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49. 95. 50. 70. 117 . 49. 50. 143. 35. 84 – 85 Assertive leadership. 108 – 9. 47. 80. 90 – 95. 37. 42.. 11. 112 Alignment-driven (behavior trait). decisive. 6. 48. 74. 45.Index Active listening (tool). 84 – 85 Collaborative (behavior trait). 95. 112 Attitude setting (tool). 101 – 2 Clinton. 11 – 12. 92. 48. closure-seeking. 56. confrontational. purposeful. 101. 72 Alter-brain behavior. 47. 98. 63 Approachable (behavior trait). 133 Cautious (behavior trait). 49. See also behavior traits: candid. 126 – 28 Bush. 118. 76. 126 – 27 Adaptive (behavior trait). 47 Analytical (behavior trait). 106. 129. 61. 70. 101. 34. 47. courageous. 63. 129 Big-picture oriented (behavior trait). 121. 117 Confident (behavior trait). 117 – 18. 7 – 8. 112 Coherent (behavior trait). 100. tenacious Assimilating (behavior trait). 47. 113. 88 – 91. 113. 38. 53 Candid (behavior trait). 125. George W. 6. 74. 95. 76 Composed (behavior trait). 83 Anticipatory (behavior trait). William Jefferson. 50. confident. 105 – 7. 117 Cheney. 123 Brainstorming (tool). 48. 70. 131 Constructive intolerance. driven. 49. 93. 17. 133 Closure-seeking (behavior trait). 46. 66 Clear thinking (behavior trait). 50. 52. 130 – 31 Attuned (behavior trait). 101 Articulate (behavior trait). 92 – 93. 106. delegating. 131 Conceptual (behavior trait). 87 – 89. 74. 37. 46. 84 – 85. 113 Coalition-building (behavior trait). 113. 87. 70 – 71 Behavior rehearsal (tool). 60 – 62. 49. 37. 110 – 12 Assimilative (behavior trait). 91 Chaining (tool). 47. 49. 101 Confrontational (behavior trait). 70 – 71 Astute (behavior trait). 125. 55. 52 – 53. 27. 91. 118 Concise (behavior trait). 113. 60. 47. Richard. 101. 37 – 38. 48. 88 – 89. 122 Ambiguity-allowing (behavior trait). 73. 1. 92 – 93. 46. 49. 129 Charismatic (behavior trait).
Index Experimental (behavior trait), 47, 65 – 66 Expressive leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52 – 53, 83 – 87, 91, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: articulate; coherent; concise; erudite; interesting; passionate; personable; persuasive; prepared; presentable Facilitative (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Factual (behavior trait), 48, 71, 80 – 81, 83 Feedback: benefits of, 121; in development planning, 121, 124; overview of, 119 – 21; as a tool, 130 Feed forward (tool), 130, 132 Flexible (behavior trait), 50, 65, 98, 102 Focused (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Freire, Paulo, 100 Fulfilled (behavior trait), 103 – 4 Genetics: chromosomes, 21; crossing over, 21; genes, 20 – 21, 23; genome, 21; genotype, 21; phenotype, 21 Genuine (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 91 Global (behavior trait), 46, 61, 63, 123 Grounded leadership, 42, 45, 49, 52 – 53, 68 – 69, 87 – 91, 101, 112, 117 – 18, 122, 129, 143. See also behavior traits: approachable; cautious; composed; established; genuine; loyal; pragmatic; questioning; stable; trustworthy Groupthink, 74 Holistic (behavior trait), 34, 37, 46, 61, 90, 123 Imaginative (behavior trait), 34, 47, 65 – 66, 68, 116 Implementing (leadership action), 51 Inclusive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 108, 123, 131 Incremental (behavior trait), 47, 51, 69 – 70, 72 – 73, 117, 125 Innovative leadership, 42, 46, 57, 64 – 66, 68 – 69, 100, 116, 118, 121, 127 – 28,
Cooper, Anderson: interview with Obama, 14 Counterintuitive, 43, 118 Courageous (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 94, 101 Creative (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 116, 127 – 28 Cuing (tool), 129 – 30 Culturally oriented (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Curious (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 76 Decisive (behavior trait), 2, 7, 49, 92 – 93 Declaring (leadership action), 51 Deep breathing (tool), 130 – 32 Delegating (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Detail oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79 – 80, 83 Diplomatic (behavior trait), 50, 105 – 7, 112 Drawing (tool), 126 – 28 Driven (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Dunham, Madeline, 27 Dunham, Stanley, 23, 27 Dunham, Stanley Ann, 23 – 25 Dynamic interplay, 2, 39, 52, 90 Effective (behavior trait), 82 – 83 Emotionally sound (behavior trait), 50, 98, 101 Empathic (behavior trait), 25, 47, 74, 76 Empowering (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Engaging leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 54, 57, 73 – 74, 76 – 77, 84, 87, 92, 112 – 13, 117 – 18, 120, 122, 127, 128, 141. See also behavior traits: charismatic; collaborative; empathic; empowering; inclusive; inquisitive; listening; motivational; respectful; responsive Environmental (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 – 5 Erudite (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Established (behavior trait), 49, 88 – 90 Ethology: cross-cultural existence, 21 – 22; defined, 21; sensitive periods, 22 – 23
Index 140. See also behavior traits: creative; curious; experimental; imaginative; novelty-seeking; pioneering; playful; risk-taking; spontaneous; unconventional Inquisitive (behavior trait), 47, 65, 74, 76 Insightful (behavior trait), 9, 46, 60 – 61, 63, 133 Interesting (behavior trait), 49, 85 – 86 Intuitive (behavior trait), 34, 36 – 37, 46, 60, 63, 106 Lakoff, George, 15 Leader’s audiences: cultures, 42, 47, 50, 70, 106, 111, 121; individuals, 42, 47, 55 – 56, 70, 121; teams, 42, 47, 50, 55 – 57, 70, 74, 121 Leadership actions. See declaring; implementing; operationalizing; visioning Leadership behaviors. See assertive; engaging; expressive; grounded; innovative; methodical; resilient; savvy; strategic; transformational Leadership Behavior Rating Form, 121 – 22 Leadership breadth, 77, 115, 118, 122, 132 Leadership depth, 115, 123 Leadership development: breadth analysis, 121; depth analysis, 122; initial reflection / visioning, 119; STOPSTART-CONTINUE (development plan format), 124 – 25. See also active listening; attitude setting; behavior rehearsal; brainstorming; chaining; cuing; deep breathing; drawing; feedback; feed forward; mentors; reflection; reframing; stress busters; visioning Leadership vulnerability, 3 Left-brain leadership: essentials, 117. See also MEGA Mind Left-brain toolkit, 129 Left hemisphere, 34 Line of Site, 45 – 46, 57, 59, 116, 118, 140 – 41
Listening (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76, 117 Logical (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 85, 130 Looking in (Plus Factor positioning), 49, 51, 97 Looking out (Line of Site), 45 – 46, 51, 118 Looking over (MEGA Mind), 47, 51 Loyal (behavior trait), 49, 75, 88 – 90 McCain, John, 38 MEGA Mind, 47 – 48, 117 – 18, 142 Mentoring (behavior trait), 47, 70, 72, 132 Mentors (tool), 130, 132 Methodical leadership, 42, 45, 48, 52, 53, 79, 82 – 83, 87, 91, 117 – 18, 122, 127, 129, 142. See also behavior traits: analytical; detail oriented; effective; factual; focused; logical; organized; procedural; sequential; task oriented Moral imperative, 14 – 15 Motivational (behavior trait), 47, 52, 74, 76, 100 Multidominance, 34 – 35, 95 – 96 Multidominant, 34 – 35, 37, 43 – 44, 95, 122 Networking (behavior trait), 31, 50, 106, 108 – 9, 112, 129 Nobel Prize for Peace, 133 Novel learning, 35 Novelty-seeking (behavior trait), 47, 65, 68 Nonverbal communication, 76 – 77 Obama, Barack Senior, 24 Obama, Michelle, 32 – 33, 104 100th day press conference, 52, 54, 56 Open to learning (behavior trait), 47, 70, 107 Operationalizing (leadership action), 51 Opportunity-conscious (behavior trait), 47, 70 – 71 Organized (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83
Index Risk-taking (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Savvy leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 76, 96 – 97, 105 – 6, 108 – 13, 118, 121, 129 – 30, 144. See also behavior traits: assimilating; astute; coalition-building; culturally oriented; diplomatic; networking; promotive; subtle; timely; visible Sensitive periods. See ethology Sequential (behavior trait), 34, 48, 80, 82 – 83 Shrewd (behavior trait), 46, 60, 63 Soetoro, Lolo, 28, 33 Spiritual (behavior trait), 32 – 33, 50, 98, 102 – 3, 105 Spontaneous (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 68 Stable (behavior trait), 35, 38, 49, 88 – 89, 101, 105 Strategic leadership, 42, 45 – 46, 52 – 53, 55, 57, 59 – 61, 63 – 64, 68 – 69, 116, 121 – 23, 140. See also behavior traits: anticipatory; big-picture oriented; conceptual; global; holistic; insightful; intuitive; shrewd; theoretical; thoughtful Stress busters (tool), 130, 132 Subtle (behavior trait), 50, 106, 108, 112 Task oriented (behavior trait), 48, 79, 82 – 83 Tenacious (behavior trait), 24, 49, 92 – 93, 125 Theoretical (behavior trait), 8, 22, 63, 125 Thoughtful (behavior trait), 4, 13, 17, 60 – 61, 63, 90 Timely (behavior trait), 50, 106 – 7, 112 Tolerant (behavior trait), 50, 98, 102 Transformational leadership, 42, 45, 47, 52, 57, 69 – 71, 73, 87, 92, 100, 112, 116, 127 – 28, 141. See also behavior traits: adaptive; alignment-driven; ambiguity-allowing; assimilative; attuned; facilitative; incremental;
Passionate (behavior trait), 48, 76, 84 – 86 Personable (behavior trait), 48, 85 – 86, 100 Persuasive (behavior trait), 49, 69, 85 – 86, 109 Physically fit (behavior trait), 103, 104 Pioneering (behavior trait), 46, 65, 68 – 69 Playful (behavior trait), 47, 64 – 65, 85, 100, 116, 133 Plus Factors, 49 – 50, 96 – 97, 118, 130, 144 Plus Factor Toolkit, 130 Positive (behavior trait), 50, 98 – 100 Powell, Colin, 16, 135 Pragmatic (behavior trait), 2, 28, 49, 88, 90 – 91 Prepared (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 85 Presentable (behavior trait), 48, 84 – 86 Procedural (behavior trait), 48, 79, 81, 83 Promotive (behavior trait), 50, 106, 110 – 13 Purposeful (behavior trait), 49, 92 – 93 Questioning (behavior trait), 49, 88, 90 – 91 Readiness (for learning), 29, 33 Reflection (tool), 101,119, 126, 128 Reframing (tool), 129, 130, 134 Relaxed (behavior trait), 50, 98, 103 Resilient leadership, 42 – 43, 49 – 50, 96 – 98, 100, 103 – 5, 112, 118, 122, 130, 144. See also behavior traits: clear thinking; emotionally sound; environmental; flexible; fulfilled; physically fit; positive; relaxed; spiritual; tolerant Respectful (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Responsive (behavior trait), 47, 74, 76 Right-brain leadership: essentials, 116 – 17. See also Line of Site Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership Model (fundamentals), 4, 41, 51, 91, 119 – 20 Right-brain toolkit, 126 Right hemisphere, 34, 36
106. 49. 112 Visioning (leadership action). 30 . 30 Zone of Proximal Development. 90 Unconventional (behavior trait). 51. 64 – 65. opportunity-conscious Trustworthy (behavior trait). 50. 128 Vygotsky. open to learning. 116 163 Visible (behavior trait).Index mentoring. 52. Lev S.. 88. 47. 119. 68. 128 Visioning (tool). 126. 110.
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wellness. and the Fielding Institute. The Lead Life Institute is a research-based learning consultancy offering dynamic programs and services to help executives and their teams realize their potential . mediation. implementation and execution. and trainer for both profit and nonprofit organizations. and university teaching. Dr. Décosterd has twenty-five years of experience in organizational development. Areas of expertise include leadership and interpersonal development. and self-satisfaction. and clinical psychology. Décosterd has lived and worked in the United States and abroad. executing. was a tenured university professor. attitude and motivation. Her work focuses around four critical success drivers: business acumen. and work /life integration. and held high-level leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. Dr.About the Author and the Lead Life Institute Mary Lou Décosterd is founder and managing executive of the Lead Life Institute. master’s degrees in educational psychology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has been recognized by Who’ s Who in Teaching and Outstanding Women of America. She has also authored the book Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership: Shifting Style for Maximum Impact and the children’s book series titled The Adventures of Magical Max. and organizations become their best. Prior to founding the Lead Life Institute. organizational development. Dr. designer. post-master’s certification in community/school psychology. Décosterd is adept at assessing individual and organizational needs and obtaining results. the University of Oklahoma. speaker. applied psychology. teams. and before working there she had her own consulting practice. influencing. Dr. and a doctorate in human development. a learning consultancy offering programs and services to help executives. Décosterd was a partner at a Chicago-headquartered international consulting firm. She is a graduate of the University of Hartford. She works as an executive coach to leaders and leadership teams and as a facilitator. cultural and team alignment. strategic change leadership.
the Lead Life Institute focuses on the successful integration of leadership and life skills. and how the leader makes a difference. women’s executive development. interpersonal power. As the name indicates. aligned operating cultures. The life aspect focuses on attitude. the Lead Life Institute provides state-of-the-art approaches for business and organizational success. team excellence. how the leader favorably impacts the world. The Lead Life Institute offers executive coaching. leadership development.166 About the Author and the Lead Life Institute and become their best. and training design and delivery in more than twenty areas of expertise. as well as work /life success seminars and individual /organizational assessments. . with leadership as a broad term encompassing business and professional acumen. Recognizing the challenges. The overall aim of the Lead Life Institute is to help individuals and organizations attain next-level success through sound strategic leadership and strong. and resilience. and complexities of today’s world. opportunities.
Stout has published or presented more than 300 papers and 30 books/manuals on various topics in psychology.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Chris E. PsyD. He is the founding director of the Center for Global Initiatives. . and the Mental Health Association of Illinois. Stout. PhD. He is a member of organizations including the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers International. He was appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow. the Illinois Department of Human Services state hospital serving adults in greater Chicago. and a distinguished practitioner in the National Academies of Practice. Bonecutter is also a long-time member of the American Psychological Association Taskforce on Children and the Family. Dr. and he has served as an invited faculty at the Annual Meeting in Davos. is director of behavioral services at the Elgin Community Mental Health Center. past president of the Illinois Psychological Association. is a licensed clinical psychologist and is a clinical full professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. He served as a NGO special representative to the United Nations. Dr. Bruce Bonecutter. He has lectured across the nation and internationally in nineteen countries and has visited six continents and almost seventy countries. consulting. the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s International Humanitarian Award. He is also a clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A clinical psychologist specializing in health. Mr. MBA. He was noted as being “one of the most frequently cited psychologists in the scientific literature” in a study by Hartwick College. His works have been translated into six languages. Stout is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. and forensic psychology.
he has focused his work on psychoanalysis. Flaherty has been a consultant to the World Health Organization. and has been a member of the board of directors for the American College of Sports Psychology. is chief executive officer at the Center for Behavioral Health in Indiana. and a professor of community health science at the UIC College of Public Health. PhD.S. He is a member and past president of the Executive Committee for the American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions. He has provided disaster mental health services to the American Red Cross. he served as dean and professor of the Arizona School of Professional Psychology. Dr. one of the nation’s leading not-forprofit graduate schools of psychology. He is a founding member of the Society for the Study of Culture and Psychiatry. and also the Falk Institute in Jerusalem. the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health Centers. director of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Sheldon I.168 About the Series Editor and Advisory Board Joseph Flaherty. He is also director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He has served as a consultant to agencies including the Ohio Department of Mental Health. Miller. Dr. Flaherty has also been staff psychiatrist and chief of psychiatry at Veterans Administration West Side Hospital in Chicago. He’s been director of undergraduate education and graduate education in the department of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. Michael Horowitz. Mr. intensive individual therapy. serving as psychiatric consultant to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service at Window Rock. is a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University and director of the Stone Institute of Psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Horowitz’s special interests include the study of fatherhood. Oklahoma Psychological Association. Arizona. Public Health Service. A clinical psychologist practicing independently since 1987. Earlier. and director of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Miller is also an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. the first behavioral health company ever to win the JCAHO Codman Award for excellence in the use of outcomes management to achieve health care quality improvement. Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations. He is founding editor of the American Journal of Addictions and founding chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Alcoholism. a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. MD. is chief of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Hospital. He is president of the board of directors for the Community Healthcare Foundation in Bloomington. is president and professor of clinical psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Miller has also been a lieutenant commander in the U. the National Institutes of Mental Health. and . Dr. MD. and couples therapy. PhD. Morrison. Dennis P.
Reid. and consultant to attorneys and courts throughout the United States. He is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center.About the Series Editor and Advisory Board 169 the National Center for Heath Promotion in Michigan. and as medical director for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. as chairman of the Research Section for an International Conference on the Psychiatric Aspects of Terrorism. William H. is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist. Reid is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Texas A&M College of Medicine and Texas Tech University School of Medicine. as well as a clinical faculty member at the Austin Psychiatry Residency Program. He has served as president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. Reid earned an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. . MD. Morrison served across 10 years as a medical service corp officer in the United States Navy. Dr. He is chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and Medical Advisor to the Texas Depressive & Manic-Depressive Association. Dr. Dr. as well as an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology. He has been cited on the Best Doctors in America listing since 1998.
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